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On Wednesday afternoon, Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported that Sixers point guard James Harden intends to decline his $35.6 million player option and enter free agency this July. Haynes wrote that Harden is seeking a four-year deal.
Since arriving in Philadelphia, Harden’s done plenty of good for the team, helping unlock Joel Embiid as a dominant pick-and-roll big, while further elevating Embiid’s scoring prowess, and serving as the lead initiator of a highly potent offense — at least during the regular season. Yet he’s struggled in consecutive playoff appearances, most recently in a Game 7 flameout against the Boston Celtics on Sunday. That creates a hazy situation because this team has title hopes, even if it hasn’t come close to actualizing them as of late.
Whereas a sizable contingent of Sixers supporters presumably wanted him to re-sign last year, that no longer seems to be the case. In a recent poll, 52 percent of participants said they don’t want Philadelphia to retain him. Another 34 percent said it depends on the details of the contract. The final 14 percent said yes.
Given Harden’s propensity for playoff declines and the shaky alternatives if he walks in free agency, Philadelphia doesn’t seem to be a in good spot, regardless of how this situation shakes out. But it appears most Sixers fans are ready to be done with the bearded point guard’s tenure in the City of Brotherly Love.