Friday, June 2

NBA free agency: James Harden to take $15 million pay cut in order to stay with 76ers, per report

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James Harden will re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers on a two-year deal with a player option in the second season, according to Shams Charnia. The deal represents a $15 million pay cut from the $47.3 million max salary he could have earned on his player option for this season. Harden arrived in Philadelphia at the trade deadline last season in a blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and draft picks.

While his stint in Philadelphia started off well, the season ended in extremely disappointing fashion for the former MVP. His burst seemingly left him after dealing with injuries and poor conditioning in Brooklyn, and in the team’s season-ending loss to the Miami Heat, Harden attempted just two shots in the second half as the 76ers were eliminated on their home floor. Considering his age (33 in August), many speculated that Harden no longer even warranted a significant contract. 

He’s still getting one, but the pay cut he is taking will allow the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign former Rockets teammate P.J. Tucker for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and Danuel House Jr. for the bi-annual exception. Many players talk a big game about sacrificing money for winning. Harden is actually doing it here.

Of course, he’s also earning an extra year of financial security with that player option. Both the Nets and Rockets offered Harden long-term extensions, but he declined on both fronts. That allowed him to make his way to the 76ers, and with his value declining, taking a multi-year deal even at a slight discount mitigated some of the risk of further decline.

The 76ers hope that Harden can stave that decline off a little while longer. With Tucker and House joining a team that already had MVP candidate Joel Embiid, breakout star Tyrese Maxey and incumbent max player Tobias Harris, a healthy and engaged Harden could still carry them deep into the playoffs. The 76ers have a brief title window in front of them. Harden’s deal is helping them maximize it.

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