The offseason vibes remain strong for the Philadelphia 76ers, thanks in no small part to James Harden opting out of his $47.4 million player option for the upcoming season, and instead signing a two-year, $68.6 million deal. One additional wrinkle we had yet to hear regarding the new contract hit the wire today, courtesy of Michael Scotto of HoopsHype:
Sources: James Harden has a 15 percent trade kicker included in his two-year, $68.64 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, @hoopshype has learned. Harden’s deal also contains a player option, as others have reported.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) August 8, 2022
(Update: Keith Smith of Spotrac is also reporting the same 15 percent trade kicker.)
A 15 percent trade kicker is the maximum allowed under the CBA, and is paid by the team trading the player (i.e. the Sixers, in this instance). The player receives that 15 percent as a bonus on the remaining value of the contract, while also being able to waive the kicker, if he so chooses, to facilitate a trade.
Let’s state this first. No one expects James Harden to be heading anywhere, at least through this upcoming season. The Harden-Daryl Morey “mutual lovefest” is in full swing. James and many of his teammates have been working out and spending significant time together off the court as well. All of Harden’s comments this offseason have been consistent with his belief that Philadelphia is where he’s best positioned to try and win a title, which is currently his top priority from a career perspective.
This addendum to the contract feels like one of those ultimate instances of just in case. Yes, James was willing to pass up some money to help the roster and improve the team’s chances of winning this season. But, if the front office changes its mind or decides to go in another direction down the road, the kicker will make sure he gets that money coming back to him. He didn’t sacrifice his bank account to be shipped out six months from now.
Ultimately, it’s a bit of added insurance for Harden and a sign of good faith from the club. Vibes are still very much good. Everyone carry on savoring the hot messy drama in Brooklyn.