James Harden joining the Philadelphia 76ers was supposed to take the team to the next level, provide Joel Embiid with a true superstar partner, and put them squarely among the favorites to get out of the Eastern Conference. The team has made it out of the first round, but Harden has struggled for the most part and was poor again in Game 1 of the ECSF against the Miami Heat.
His poor performances have brought about a very important question, what will the Sixers do considering that Harden's contract runs out at the end of the next campaign? His play so far has not been worthy of a max contract but there will be teams willing to pay him a lot, and if he walks, then the Sixers will essentially have lost Ben Simmons for nothing but a rental.
According to NBA insider Sam Amick though, Harden might not pick up his player option for next season, which would be $47 million, and instead opt for a longer contract extension. And there is some good news for the team on that front, with the report stating that he might be open to accepting less than a max extension (via RealGM).
"When the Sixers got him, their intel was that he would potentially be willing to take less. And obviously, you know, nobody knows him better than Daryl (Morey)," said Amick.
Harden's relationship with Morey is what brought him to the Sixers, and it might help in retaining his services on a slightly team-friendly deal. However, with Harden just averaging 21 points per game since joining the Sixers, and looking slower, any extension will have to be offered carefully.
The Beard is one of the premier offensive talents of his generation, and he could very well bounce back next season, even though some media members have already suggested that he is finished. In any case, this situation could work well to Philly's advantage if they play their cards right.