In Philadelphia, the acquisition of James Harden didn't pan out as anybody expected. Last season, he played more like a role player than an MVP and led his team to a brutal playoff defeat against the Miami Heat in the second round.
But today, Sixers fans will be happy to hear about Harden's latest move. According to Shams Charania, the All-Star guard will opt out of the final year of his deal to sign a short-term contract that gives Philadelphia some financial flexibility.
Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden has decided to opt out of his $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season in order to return to the franchise on a free-agent contract that gives the team financial flexibility to bolster the roster, sources tell The Athletic.
Harden made the decision in recent weeks and communicated a clear goal to 76ers officials: winning a championship in Philadelphia next season. Harden opting out and taking less opens up a path for the 76ers to make legitimate upgrades for their roster for the upcoming season, beginning Thursday night when the free-agency period opens.
Lowering Harden's salary from $47.4 million allows 76ers president Daryl Morey to offer free agents the $10.5 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception without any other moves, flexibility Morey would have had difficulty creating by trading players already on guaranteed contracts.
Harden has been attacked from all sides for the season he had. For whatever reason, he failed to live up to expectations as a star and saw career lows in some statistical categories.
But Harden is looking to put it all behind him with this new contract and a summer of intense offseason workouts. If he can return to his former state of play and help Daryl Morey, add some pieces around him, it could be the key to lifting the Sixers to another level.
At the very least, it gives the fans reason to hope again after all the drama and controversy they endured this past season.