Since James Harden joined the Philadelphia 76ers in mid-February, rumors and reports have swirled about the possibility of him taking a pay cut in the immediate future to provide Philadelphia increased financial flexibility. Given the constraints of the Sixers’ cap space, such a decision could considerably broaden their options in free agency, as they look to finally establish themselves as a bona fide title contender behind Harden and Joel Embiid.
Harden owns a $47 million player option for 2022-23 and the deadline to act on it is Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the possibility of Harden declining that option and taking a discount to improve the Sixers’ financial freedom is something entertained by both the star guard and the organization.
Woj on James Harden: “In Harden’s mind opting out of that deal and then negotiating a new contract gives the Sixers financial flexibility to improve this team. He’s committed to winning.”
— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) June 29, 2022
“In a perfect world for the Sixers, and I think in James Harden’s mind, opting out of that deal and then negotiating a new contract here when free agency opens, gives the Sixers a lot more financial flexibility to go and improve this team in the offseason,” Wojnarowski said. “He can still get long-term, guaranteed money or certainly guaranteed money at a very high number over a couple of years by opting out and it gives the Sixers the ability to add to their roster.
“They know they’ve gotta get better. James Harden, he has told them he wants to win. He’s committed to winning. And I think there’s a playbook here now for the Sixers and James Harden to work together and find a way to get James Harden a new deal in Philly and improve that roster.”
Wojnarowski added that he believes “Harden’s gonna be in Philly … on a new deal,” one that would allow the Sixers to bolster their roster in free agency and “get better in the East to compete for a championship.”
In 21 games with Philadelphia last season, the All-Star guard averaged 21 points, 10.5 assists, and 7.1 rebounds on 60.1 percent true shooting.