76ers Rumors: James Harden Missed Deadline to File Paperwork for Contract Opt-In

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 15, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08:  James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on from the sideline against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on February 08, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
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James Harden reportedly missed a buzzer-beater for the Philadelphia 76ers before he even suited up for the team.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported during an appearance on The Ringer's Real Ones podcast (h/t RealGM) that the guard has not officially opted in to his contract for the 2022-23 campaign because he and the team missed the deadline to file their paperwork.

"The paperwork was filed, but they did not meet the buzzer for the opt-in," Charania said. "He still has the option to opt in in the summer. There was a time period where he could have opted in in conjunction with the trade. They ended up not filing the paperwork in time, so a little bit of a procedural situation with the paperwork."

Charania said he believes the "intent is to opt in" during the offseason, which Harden confirmed during his Tuesday press conference. Harden could opt in to $47.4 million for the 2022-23 campaign and sign an additional four-year, $223 million extension during the summer.

Philadelphia will surely want Harden on the roster beyond this season, especially since it gave up plenty in a blockbuster deal ahead of last Thursday's trade deadline.

The 76ers sent Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, an unprotected 2022 first-round pick and a protected 2027 first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Harden and Paul Millsap. It was the conclusion of the Simmons saga and might improve both teams heading into the Eastern Conference playoffs if everyone plays up to their potential.

Harden will have to wait to opt in to next season's deal, just like he is waiting to take the court for Philadelphia.

The guard will be out through the All-Star break because of a hamstring injury, meaning his Sixers debut will come in a Feb. 25 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the earliest.

"I think it's more to make sure he's right, healthy, and ready to go," head Doc Rivers told reporters Monday. "We want to make sure he's ready, and so we're going to wait until he's ready."

A healthy Harden pairing with Joel Embiid will give the 76ers an excellent chance to advance past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2000-01 season. He provides the spacing Simmons never did because of his outside shooting and can work in pick-and-rolls with Embiid throughout the game.

Philadelphia is 34-22 on the season and sitting in the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. However, the 76ers are just 2.5 games behind the top-seeded Miami Heat, so Harden could help them climb when he returns.