James Harden expected to pick up player option, signing short-term extension with 76ers, per report

James Harden’s future with the Philadelphia 76ers is the most pressing problem the franchise faces this low season. Harden, 32, has a $ 47 million player option for next season that he can pick up, and he is also eligible for a monster max extension – either four or five years, depending on what he decides to do with the option. So there are several ways Harden’s future in Philadelphia can play out financially, but it looks like the two sides will meet in the middle, as Harden is expected to pick up the player option and then sign a short-term deal with the Sixers, according to Bleacher Report.

The Sixers traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and a couple of picks to buy Harden from the Brooklyn Nets in February. He appeared in 21 games for the team during the regular season and played in all 12 of their playoff games.

From Jake Fischer:

Two weeks from the start of the NBA’s free agency June 30 at 18.00 ET, all signs point to All-Star guard James Harden returning to the Philadelphia 76ers for a shorter contract extension, league sources told B / R.

Harden and the Sixers management are in line with a clear directive, said sources: The franchise’s best opportunity to compete for a championship with Joel Embiid in the lead role, as well as Harden’s optimal opportunity to earn his first NBA ring, lies with Harden who plays in Philadelphia in the foreseeable future.

However, the Sixers’ ownership has been resistant to the idea of ​​giving Harden a full four-year contract extension beyond the 2022-23 option season, sources told B / R, or the five-year deal that Harden would be eligible for if he chose to decline his $ 47.4 player option. million for next season. Signing perhaps an extension of two years after the option season to create a new three-year framework will also give Harden greater choice for his own career.

After Philadelphia’s season ended, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey made it clear that the team planned to keep Harden.

“It’s the plan is to get him back. It’s been the plan since the deal,” in Morey by Harden. “Of course we have to work with his representation, and it will be between us to find out how it works … He is an incredibly talented player just like Joel [Embiid]just like Tobias [Harris]and I’m excited about Doc [Rivers] and his staff to have an entire offseason, work with the players and come up with the best plan for the roster. ”

After the season, when asked if he would potentially take a pay cut to help the team expand the rest of the roster, Harden had this to say: “Whatever is needed to help this team continue to grow, and set us up there with the best of them … We’re trying to win a championship. That’s the goal. No matter what it looks like. ”

Signing Harden to a contract with shorter teams makes sense for the Sixers, as he obviously still has some gas left in the familiar tank, and such a move protects them in case his game deteriorates to an extreme level in the coming season (s). ). Once Harden’s deal is complete and cleared out, the Sixers can continue to build the list around him and MVP runner-up Embiid.