The Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Miami Heat this past week due in no small part to James Harden’s ineffectiveness.
Given that Harden has a $47 million player option next season and then becomes a free agent afterward, many began to wonder what impact his playoff failures will have on his future.
This week, an answer emerged.
According to ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst, Harden is staying in Philly – but likely on a slightly different deal than everyone may have originally anticipated.
.@WindhorstESPN says to pump the brakes on Harden returning to Philadelphia next season with a max deal.
“Nobody in the NBA believes that the Sixers are going to give James Harden a max contract.” pic.twitter.com/vASDx6p0ek
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) May 13, 2022
“I think at this point nobody in the NBA believes that the Sixers are going to give James Harden a max contract,” Windhorst said.
“So the question is what is he willing to do? You could look at what happened with Chris Paul last year with the Suns. He opted out of a $44 million deal this year and actually took a $14 million pay cut and then is taking another pay cut next year with the theory that the Suns are going to be able to keep that championship-level team together.
“Is James Harden prepared to do that? Or will he just opt in and say, ‘I have a $47 million option, that’s what you’re gonna pay me.’ These are the questions that are going to happen over the next couple of months.
“And I can tell you this: no matter what you think about Daryl Morey and his team building, Daryl Morey always thinks big and he will have a plan into this summer to improve this summer, but he may need James Harden on board with it and we’ll see how much Harden is willing to play ball.”
Also complicating matters is Harden’s relationship with Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, who the team seems intent on retaining.
Harden very outwardly blamed Rivers for some of his playoff failures after Philly got eliminated.
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 14, 2022
This is going to be an interesting summer for the 76ers.
What sort of deal will they ultimately ink Harden to going forward? Time will tell.