James Harden Rumors: Star Meeting with 76ers to Begin Negotiating New Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 2, 2022

Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden plays during the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Contract negotiations between the Philadelphia 76ers and All-Star guard James Harden are reportedly set to begin in earnest.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Harden will meet with the Sixers on Saturday in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, to discuss a new deal.

Harden opted out of the final year of his contract this week in order to potentially negotiate a longer deal with the 76ers.

While nothing is official regarding Harden returning to Philadelphia, the expectation has always been that he would re-sign with the team.

When Harden declined his $47.4 million player option, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported that he would sign a new free-agent deal with the Sixers.

Charania noted that the decision to opt out was made in an effort to lower Harden's salary and create more flexibility for the 76ers to sign other players.

The 76ers have already done that, reportedly signing veteran forward P.J. Tucker, center DeAndre Jordan and wing Danuel House to free-agent deals, adding them to a roster that already includes MVP runner-up Joel Embiid, up-and-coming guard Tyrese Maxey, forward Tobias Harris and others.

Philadelphia took a big swing last season by acquiring Harden from the Brooklyn Nets for a package that included guards Ben Simmons and Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond and two first-round picks.

It marked a reunion for Harden and Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who was the Houston Rockets general manager when they acquired Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 10-time All-Star, three-time scoring champion and one-time NBA MVP played well in 21 games for the Sixers, averaging 21.0 points, 10.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds. Harden played the role of facilitator more than primary scorer, as he often deferred to Embiid.

Despite a strong roster headlined by Embiid and Harden, the Sixers were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs, marking they failed to make it past the second round.

For now, bringing back Harden seemingly represents the Sixers' best chance to contend next season.