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76ers Rumors: James Harden Agrees to 2-Year Contract with Option, Takes $15M Pay Cut

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 8, 2022

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with a player option in the second season.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Harden is taking a $15 million pay cut for the 2022-23 season.

The move doesn't come as a surprise, even after Harden declined his $47.4 million player option Wednesday. The reporting at the time indicated that the veteran point guard did so to give the Sixers more salary-cap space and options for improving the roster in free agency.

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Harden’s sole focus: Win a title in Philadelphia next season. Harden returned to his workout and on-court regimen much sooner than usual this offseason, pouring his full focus on 2022-23 and a championship run. <a href="https://t.co/8muicTaJx6">https://t.co/8muicTaJx6</a>

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

The opt-out could go a long way in reshaping the Sixers’ bench, including that full mid-level exception, $4.1M bi-annual exception and sign-and-trades.

In turn, the Sixers have signed P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr. with the anticipated cap flexibility Harden afforded them.

Harden, 32, averaged 21 points, 10.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds in 21 games for the Philadelphia 76ers last season after he was acquired in a February trade with the Brooklyn Nets, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from three.

While there are concerns about Harden's waning burst and a reluctance to aggressively seek his own shot in Philly—especially in the playoffs last year, when he attempted just 13.2 shots per game and averaged 18.6 points—he formed a natural pick-and-roll partnership with Joel Embiid.

Philadelphia scored a whopping 120.3 points per 100 possessions when Harden was on the court during the regular season, per NBA.com. When he sat, that offensive rating dropped to 107.7.

The Sixers have attached their title hopes to the partnership of Embiid and Harden, and the continued emergence of combo guard Tyrese Maxey gives them another key piece to build around.

It isn't a surprise that Harden stayed in Philly—that was always the plan.

"I'll be here," Harden told reporters after the Sixers' Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. "Whatever allows us to continue to grow and get better and do the things necessary to win and compete at a high level."

All that's left to do is secure the ever-elusive championship ring.

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