We have an update. Sixers fans have been enjoying (or not enjoying) a lull in updates but we got one on Wednesday evening. James Harden has reached an agreement in principle to return to the Sixers on a two-year deal.
He’ll be here at least one more year, and barring major setbacks, likely opt out and revisit this scenario come summer of 2023. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had the scoop about the “one-plus-one” framework:
Harden will make $33M for the 2022-2023 season, and has the player option for $35.6M in 2023-2024, sources tell ESPN. He can move right back into free agency next summer and negotiate another new deal. https://t.co/9UM0LArYzH— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 20, 2022
Harden’s player option means we’ll likely revisit this subject next July.
We had learned back in early July via Shams Charania of the Athletic that Harden would receive roughly $15M less on his two-year deal than the player option he declined. Harden ultimately elected to turn down an option that would have paid him $47.4M for the upcoming season. Had he not opted out, it would have limited the team’s flexibility and made it virtually impossible for the Sixers to have signed veterans P.J. Tucker and Danuel House during free agency. It’s roughly a $14M pay cut he took, to help them add some dawgs and spark some Philadelphia Rockets jokes.
Philadelphia was $36M below the $157M hard cap before the Harden contract.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 20, 2022
The $14M haircut allowed the 76ers to sign PJ Tucker and Danuel House.
His max next year would be $46.5M if he becomes a free agent. https://t.co/wVx9C8GxBm
Harden said he wanted to help the Sixers build, improve the roster, and compete for a title. His restructuring allowed them to do just that. Once he puts pen to paper, (maybe they’ll make us wait another few weeks for that) Daryl Morey and Elton Brand can get back to figuring out how the final roster will look.
But one of the key dominoes has fallen into place. Harden’s commitment to winning here should go largely unquestioned. He could have easily picked that $47.4M option up and revisited free agency next summer $14M richer. We’ll wait for everything to be made official. But Joel Embiid’s future Hall of Fame point guard will be back.