James Harden is one of the best players from the current generation. He is a former MVP and Conference Champion and has multiple scoring titles to his name. However, the Harden we were familiar with even two seasons ago has completely disappeared.
Ever since Harden demanded a trade away from the Houston Rockets, his career numbers have seen a sharp decline. While he has settled into being more of a playmaker, his scoring has fallen off a cliff. Harden averaged 18.6 points, 8.6 assists, and 5.7 rebounds through the 12 playoff games he played for Philly this year, a mark that isn't acceptable for someone in line for one of the biggest contracts in NBA history.
It seems Harden has played his way out of becoming the first player to have a contract that pays $50 million for one season, something even he admitted after the 76ers were eliminated from the post-season by the Miami Heat.
The 76ers are in salary hell with the contracts that they are paying to Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid already. While they have to give Embiid everything they can afford, Harris has fallen well below the mark of the contract the 76ers gave him in 2019. The trade for Harden from Brooklyn took a toll on the depth of the team, and Philly needs to rebuild it this offseason.
If Harden were to take a discount on his deal, Philadelphia could have a lot more room to play with and reinforce the roster. The priority will be to have someone other than DeAndre Jordan or Paul Reed be the team's backup center. In addition, some better wing play outside of Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Matisse Thybulle is desperately required.
Harden took a risk when he left Houston, but even he couldn't have anticipated how badly it's gone. Hopefully, having a lot more to prove next season motivates Harden to be in shape through the season and show why he was one of the most feared players of this generation.