Windhorst: James Harden 'Extraordinarily Likely' to Opt In to $47.4M Contract Option

Adam WellsMay 5, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 02: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Miami Heat during the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at FTX Arena on May 02, 2022 in Miami, Florida. 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 Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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As James Harden continues to struggle, his long-term status with the Philadelphia 76ers is becoming a significant question mark with the offseason approaching. 

Appearing on First Take, ESPN's Brian Windhorst called it "extraordinarily likely" that Harden will opt in to his $47.4 million salary for next season and "then negotiating with the Sixers on what sort of deal it's going to be" beyond the 2022-23 campaign.

There was a lot of talk around Harden's opt-in shortly after he was acquired by the Sixers in a Feb. 10 trade with the Brooklyn Nets. 

Harden told reporters on Feb. 15 he "will" opt in for next season. He could have done it during the regular season, but Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported during an appearance on The Ringer's Real Ones podcast (h/t RealGM) the same day as Harden's press conference that he missed the deadline to do so. 

"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."

If Harden opts in, he is also eligible to sign a four-year, $223 million extension on top of his 2022-23 salary. 

Appearing on The Athletic NBA Show on Wednesday (h/t RealGM), Sam Amick said the 76ers had "intel" that Harden would potentially be willing to take a deal for less than the max. 

After a strong start to his Philadelphia tenure, Harden's performance has really fallen off. The former NBA MVP shot 36.3 percent from the field (29.1 percent from three-point range) and averaged 19.7 points per game in his final 17 starts of the regular season. 

In eight playoff games, Harden's scoring average is down to 18.8 points per game and he's making 40.2 percent of his shot attempts (34.8 percent from behind the arc). The 10-time All-Star is averaging 9.4 assists per game this postseason.