This “Trust the Prophecy” poll will look to tap into the collective wisdom of the Liberty Ballers community. Wisdom of the crowds is often more powerful than the guess of an individual. One example is the old “guess how many jellybeans are in the jar” contest. It’s been demonstrated that the average of every carnival-goer’s guess is often surprisingly close to the precise amount of candy beans, and much better than most random participants’ guess. Let’s try our hand as a community at some forecasting.
While many fans are focused on trade rumors and the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft, Daryl Morey and Elton Brand are also focused on working with their star guard to figure out the James Harden contract situation. Will the seven time All-NBA California native opt into his whopping $47M option and siphon off some precious wiggle room under the salary cap apron? Will he opt out and restructure a new deal that allows the team the chance to add some win now support? Will things fall apart and he’ll wind up fielding calls from rival teams?
We have a lot of questions about this situation. Before we get into the particulars, let’s look at how we’ve done so far this season as a Liberty Ballers forecasting community lately.
This one looks like it was a layup in hindsight. But remember at the time, Philadelphia’s front office did as good of a job as possible convincing people they might truly take that Simmons trade through the Feb. 10 deadline and into the summer!
Many of the top reporters wound up convinced the agonizing holdout would most likely continue and Morey himself has admitted having Simmons on the roster post deadline was a possibility the team was prepared for.
But you nailed the forecast by a nose:
Wisdom of the crowds prevailed by just 28 votes out of a total 934 votes.
How did we know they’d close that series out in a hostile environment up North, was it because “Sixers in six” rolls off the tongue so smoothly?
The Sixers were first looking to sweep the Raptors in four but Joel Embiid’s thumb injury threw a wrench into the plan. Then they tried to close out Toronto at the crib in five games, but fell inexplicably flat. Had they won that one, they could have spared Embiid taking a gruesome elbow to the face in extended garbage time of Game 6. But by hook or by crook, we nailed the pick before the series started.
So let’s get back to that forecasting well.
A reminder, Harden has until June 29th to decide whether or not he wants to pick up a one year $47.4M annual salary or decline it and become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his 13 year Hall of Fame worthy career. The onus is on the team then to make it worth his while to opt out, assuming that’s what Morey and Brand would prefer.
Will Harden play ball, like he’s hinted he would?
James Harden on his $47 million player option: "I'll be here. Whatever allows this team to continue grow, get better and do the things necessary to compete at the highest level."— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) May 13, 2022
Harden said the ball didn't get to him. Asked if Doc Rivers called plays for him: "Next question." pic.twitter.com/AisZhcfnC2
Ideally for The Beard, he would probably like to find one or two teams willing to make him a max offer in order to push the Sixers to the limit. The most he can command on a five year deal from Philadelphia would be upwards of $270M.
Danny Leroux of The Athletic laid out two possibilities for a Harden extension, that wind up in the middle. One where his yearly raises go up (giving the Sixers more spend now) and one where they go down (giving them more room later):
“Let’s say, theoretically, Harden was willing to take $35 million per season over five years rather than his full maximum. On a brand new contract starting in 2022-23, that could look like this:
However, using the player option, the two sides could structure the same overall money this way:
Bryan Toporek of Forbes provided a must read deep dive on the different ways this could shake out.
“When asked after Game 6 whether he planned to pick up his $47.4 million player option for next season, Harden replied, “I’ll be here.” He also hinted that he’d be willing to settle for a non-max extension, telling reporters, “Whatever it takes to help this team grow.”
Depending on how much less he’s willing to take, that might wind up being the Sixers’ best-case scenario.
If Harden opts out to become a free agent, he could take any salary up to $46.5 million in his first year, and his contract could increase or decrease by 8 percent each year from there. If he picks up his player option, he could then sign up to a four-year extension with a starting salary up to $49.7 million and the same annual 8 percent increases or decreases.”
And most recently, Derek Bodner of “The Daily Six” wondered “what should the Sixers prioritize in James Harden contract negotiations?”
As Bodner pointed out, (in his epic every freaking angle accounted for analysis):
“I think the Sixers have to prioritize fielding a legitimate contender now, while Embiid is still happy in Philly and while he is in his physical prime. That means clearing some room under the apron if at all possible, both to help facilitate a Tobias Harris trade if there’s one there that makes sense and improves your depth, but also to be able to use that full exception to increase your odds of signing players who can hang in the playoffs.
The second priority for me would be to try to have cap space in 2025.”
So with all of that in mind, let’s try a poll. It’s going to be a double, as we predict an annual salary and a total amount of years.
Here we go.
What $ range will Harden’s annual salary start at?
This poll is closed
$45M and up
How many years will Harden sign for with Sixers?
This poll is closed
0: he opts out and leaves in FA or a surprise sign-and-trade
1: he plays out the year we revisit this next summer when he’s a FA
Tell your friends to vote also and let’s see if we can keep our lucky streak going. Check back when we know more to see how we did.