The common assumption seems to be that the Sixers are looking at a tough call after the season regarding Harden's contract. He is going to get a Max Deal/Extension which will run over 200 million bucks, and the Sixers are stuck with the bill. But does Harden really have the leverage to negotiate that? Jalen Rose famously said, "it's not a question of what you deserve, it's what you have the leverage to negotiate," and it is not clear to me that James Harden is going to have that leverage. What I am asking is this: Who would the Sixers be bidding against?
The tanking teams don't want him. OKC, Houston, Detroit, and Orlando might have the cap space, but they are building with young players, not trying to win now, so they're not bidding for the Beard. The middle of the pack teams (SAC, Chicago, the Knicks, San Antonio, NO, Minnesota, Charlotte) are not going to be bidding for Harden, right? Why would they want to invest Max money in Harden given their teams are not Championship level? Harden isn't taking the Knicks to the title, and I'm pretty sure they know that. So what about the top tier teams? Who has the cap space and the desire to add James Harden? Miami? Golden State? Are teams like these teams going to give Harden 40 million dollars a season for four or five years? Can they?
Is the truth simply that Harden is still a good enough player to garner a max deal from a team with cap space? Or is it possible that the Sixers could negotiate something more team friendly?