76ers' James Harden Praised by NBA Twitter for Taking $15M Pay Cut on New Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 8, 2022

Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden plays during Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Monday, April 25, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

James Harden received a ton of love Friday on Twitter after he agreed to a new, team-friendly contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Harden opted out of his deal and agreed to a new one that will pay him $32 million next season, which is $15 million less than he would have made had he opted in.

Harden also has a player option for a second year as he and the Sixers attempt to make a run at a championship.

The biggest narrative making the rounds on Twitter is that Harden made a selfless decision that will allow the 76ers to add talent and have a better chance at winning a title:

Jason Dumas @JDumasReports

I was expecting him to sign a longterm deal with Philly and stretch out the money so at the end he didn’t lose out on much. <br><br>This is an extremely selfless move by James Harden and also betting on himself as well. <a href="https://t.co/lcWYv2Asuk">https://t.co/lcWYv2Asuk</a>

shamus @shamus_clancy

Just given the way the NBA works, I would’ve never imagined Harden would take such a steep cut. <br><br>This has to put the bed the idea that he doesn’t care/doesn’t give a shit for a while.

Sam Quinn @SamQuinnCBS

Props to James Harden. He's putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to winning. Not many guys willing to do the same.

Sean Barnard @Sean_Barnard1

I understand it’s still a ton of money but give James Harden a ton of respect for having the willingness to work with the Sixers to upgrade the roster<br><br>Taking a $15 million payout is not easy regardless of how much you have in the bank <a href="https://t.co/Up0t5maFHA">https://t.co/Up0t5maFHA</a>

Julian Edlow @julianedlow

Regardless of what we’ve seen on the floor in recent years, it does seem James Harden at least cares some about trying to win a ring. <a href="https://t.co/pgY24v8pMY">https://t.co/pgY24v8pMY</a>

Whether fair or not, Harden has gained a reputation as being a "me-first" player at times during his career.

That may stem from his time with the Houston Rockets when he was a three-time scoring champion and one-time NBA MVP, only for Houston to never reach the NBA Finals.

After facilitating a trade from Houston to the Brooklyn Nets, he only made it to the second round of the playoffs and was then traded again last season to the Sixers, getting eliminated in the second round once again.

Harden has become more of a playmaker in recent years, though, averaging over 10 assists per game in each of the past two seasons. He is also still among the best players in the NBA, leading some to remark on how great of a value the Sixers are getting with the new deal:

Avi Wolfman-Arent @Avi_WA

32 million for a year of James Harden has gotta be one of the best values in the league. Especially for a veteran player with all-star impact. Incredible vibes on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardenIsland?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardenIsland</a> right now.

Evan Sidery @esidery

Assuming James Harden’s new deal is $32.0 million, he will be the 31st-ranked player in annual salary next season.<br><br>A massive discount for Harden committing to chasing a title with the Sixers alongside Joel Embiid.

Jason Patt @Bulls_Jay

Huge W for the Sixers on this Harden deal.

Additionally, Harden received praise for making strides and committing himself to potentially winning a championship in Philly:

73-9 and THEY LIED @CuffsTheLegend

Harden skipping the Lil Baby tour to work on his body AND he took a pay cut! This is the growth the streets wanted to see Moochie! ✊🏾

Like Harden, the 76ers have fallen short of their goal with regularity during the playoffs in recent years, but there is hope for progress next season and beyond.

In addition to Harden, the Sixers have the reigning MVP runner-up in Joel Embiid, a rising star guard in Tyrese Maxey and one of the better offensive forwards in the league in Tobias Harris, plus a solid supporting cast.

The 76ers have one of the best teams in the NBA in terms of talent, and now they just need to put it all together when it matters most.