Report: James Harden, 76ers Agree to 2-Year, $69M Contract with Player Option

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 20, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA - MAY 12: James Harden of Philadelphia 76ers in action during NBA semifinals between Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States on May 12, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers and James Harden have reportedly come to terms on a two-year, $69 million deal with a player option on the second year, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Harden will make $33M for the 2022-2023 season, and has the player option for $35.6M in 2023-2024, sources tell ESPN. He can move right back into free agency next summer and negotiate another new deal. <a href="https://t.co/9UM0LArYzH">https://t.co/9UM0LArYzH</a>

Harden, 32, declined a $47.3 million player option for the 2022-23 season, taking around a $14.3 million pay cut to aid the Sixers in signing free agents P.J. Tucker and Danuel House this offseason.

By opting out and taking a pay cut, Harden allowed the Sixers to use the full mid-level exception to sign Tucker to a three-year, $33 million deal and the biannual exception to sign House to a two-year, $8.4 million deal without exceeding the tax apron as a hard-capped team.

Per ESPN's Bobby Marks, his player option in the second year of the deal grants him veto rights any potential trade involving him this upcoming season.

After a somewhat disappointing postseason that saw him average 18.6 points and 8.6 assists per game, taking just 13.2 attempts per game, the reduced deal also gives Harden another chance to reinvigorate his market value this upcoming season, though he's maintained that his primary focus was ensuring the Sixers had the flexibility to improve their roster, and by proxy, their title chances.

"I had conversations with Daryl [Morey], and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over," Harden told Haynes on Sunday. “This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That’s all that matters to me at this stage. I’m willing to take less to put us in position to accomplish that.”

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

Daryl Morey -- with an assist from Harden -- has had a brilliant offseason. Harden's salary reduction freed the Sixers to sign Tucker, House -- and Philly may not be done dealing.

It's a big year for the Sixers, who have a roster loaded with talent, led by Harden, two-time defending MVP runner-up Joel Embiid, ascending young star Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris. Many of the team's issues—depth, toughness, athleticism and defensive versatility on the wing—were addressed with the offseason additions of Tucker, House and De'Anthony Melton.

In the post-Process era of Sixers basketball with Embiid as the centerpiece, the Sixers have yet to get past the second round of the playoffs.

But it's also a big year for Harden, as he looks to prove he hasn't lost a step and can pair with another superstar to finally get over the championship hump.