James Harden Opting Out Of 76ers Deal, Entering Free Agency
Recent reports suggest that Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden will opt out of his contract with the team to test free agency this offseason. Harden signed a two-year deal with the team in 2021 and would have received $35.6 million in a third-year option.
James Harden will opt out of player option & wants 4 year deal according to @ChrisBHaynes
James wants to compete and “the basketball freedom for the star to be himself” according to @ChrisBHaynes
I asked Daryl Morey about James:
“We do have interest in bringing him back” pic.twitter.com/dNkQ5fn9TN
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Following a 2021-22 season in which the 76ers lost to the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals, Harden took a $15 million pay cut in order to make space for the team to build around him and MVP Joel Embiid. The team lost again in the conference semifinals this season, however. Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported that Harden now wants the security of multiple years for another competitive team.
“The Houston Rockets have long been a rumored destination, but sources say Harden will only entertain suitors that present a competitive roster and the basketball freedom for the star to be himself,” Haynes reported.
Harden’s stint in Philadelphia was promising at times, as he and Embiid did produce together to maintain the team’s status as a title contender. The Sixers also improved to an extent this year and took the highly touted Boston Celtics to seven games in the postseason. Supporting players did not contribute consistently around the pair, however, and the experiment will now end prematurely.
“I can’t win alone,” Embiid said after the Sixers’ Game 7 loss. “Me and James [Harden], we just can’t win alone. That’s why basketball is played 5-on-5.”
Harden, now 33, will enter his 17th season in the NBA later this year. The 2018 MVP can no longer produce as he once did but could still be an incredibly valuable addition to a number of teams. If he signs with the Rockets, he would rejoin the team that he has spent most of his career with, often as the lone star falling short of championship glory. The team would likely build around Harden with younger talent to escape the doldrums of the Western Conference.
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