James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers are closing in on a new deal. While it was reported he and the team recently agreed to a two-year deal with a player option in the second season — and a $15 million pay cut from the $47.3 million max salary he could have earned on his player option for this season — the contract isn’t yet finalized as negotiations are “still in progress” and in a “good place,” according to Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey. There is optimism both sides will reach a deal in the near future. says
Harden arrived in Philadelphia at the trade deadline last season in a blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and draft picks. While his stint in Philadelphia started off well, the season ended in extremely disappointing fashion for the former MVP. His burst seemingly left him after dealing with injuries and poor conditioning in Brooklyn, and in the team’s season-ending loss to the Miami Heat, Harden attempted just two shots in the second half as the 76ers were eliminated on their home floor. Considering his age (33 in August), many speculated that Harden no longer even warranted a significant contract.
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He’s still about to get one, but the pay cut he is expected to take will allow the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign former Rockets teammate P.J. Tucker for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and Danuel House Jr. for the bi-annual exception. Many players talk a big game about sacrificing money for winning. Harden is actually doing it here.
Of course, he’d also be earning an extra year of financial security with a player option. Both the Nets and Rockets offered Harden long-term extensions, but he declined on both fronts. That allowed him to make his way to the 76ers, and with his value declining, taking a multi-year deal even at a slight discount would mitigate some of the risk of further decline.
The 76ers hope that Harden can stave that decline off a little while longer. With Tucker and House joining a team that already had MVP candidate Joel Embiid, breakout star Tyrese Maxey and incumbent max player Tobias Harris, a healthy and engaged Harden could still carry them deep into the playoffs. The 76ers have a brief title window in front of them. A new Harden deal would help them maximize it.