When the 2021-22 season ended, James Harden made clear he’d like to remain with the Philadelphia 76ers moving forward. Whether that meant opting in to his 2022-23 player option, inking a max deal or something in between was unclear — until now.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, “all signs point toward All-Star guard James Harden returning to the Philadelphia 76ers on a shorter-term contract extension.”
Fischer said Harden and Sixers management are in lockstep about the fact that his best chance to win a title is in Philadelphia, with Joel Embiid leading the way.
“Sixers ownership, though, has been resistant to the idea of giving Harden a full four-year maximum contract extension beyond his 2022-23 option season, sources told B/R, or the five-year deal that Harden would be eligible for if he chose to decline his $47.4 million player option for next season,” Fischer wrote.
Fischer signaled that a two-year extension following the 2022-23 option “would also provide Harden with greater optionality for his own career.”
“Harden is expected to pick up his player option for the 2022-23 season, sources said,” Fischer reported. “But the Sixers’ further financial commitment to him remains to be seen once the legal negotiating period begins.”
Due to CBA provisions, Harden can maximize his financial gains if he signs an extension once six months have passed since his trade to Philadelphia. Right now, the Sixers can only offer 105 percent of his 2022-23 salary in the first year of an extension, with a 5 percent raise in the next season — totaling at $149.3 million across three years.
From Aug. 10 onward (the trade happened Feb. 10), he could receive an 8 percent raise and net himself $150.8 million between 2022-23 and 2024-25. If he opts out, his maximum earnings over three years would be $150.7 million. All numbers are courtesy of cap calculations given to Bleacher Report.
“There has also been plenty of talk among league personnel of Harden potentially taking less than his maximum salary to amplify Philadelphia’s efforts to build a championship-contending rotation around Harden and Embiid,” Fischer said.