Should Dallas Mavericks worry about James Harden going back to the Rockets?

Dallas Mavericks, James Harden
Dallas Mavericks, James Harden / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks hope to bounce back from one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. They were in the conference finals in 2022 and sat fourth in the Western Conference in February before winning just 8 of their final 25 games to miss the playoffs. It was a disastrous collapse that has the Mavs searching for roster upgrades.

The rumor mill is just starting to heat up. The Mavs have already been linked to Deandre Ayton, and they will be a popular name over the next two months. One rumor that has persisted since the beginning of the season is James Harden returning to Houston in free agency this summer.

The Sixers crashing out in the second round of the playoffs with Harden struggling in Game 7 will do zero to quiet the noise. The Rockets have been in the lottery every year since The Beard departed, but they have plenty of young talent and are ready to get back into contention. It is far from a done deal, but should the Mavs be worried?

Why Dallas Mavericks would worry about James Harden returning to the Rockets

The Rockets took over the Southwest Division with Harden. They won it four times in eight years, including three straight from 2018 to 2020. He also went 20-12 against the Mavericks during his time in Houston, including losing just one season series in his first year with the Rockets.

Putting another superstar in the division is not ideal for Dallas. Harden had the Mavs number during his time in Houston, but this is not the same player.