NBA Free Agency: James Harden Takes $15 Million Salary Cut to Stay with 76ers, Per Report


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James Harden will re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers in the second season on a two-year contract with a player option. Shams Charnia† The agreement represents a $15 million pay cut from the maximum salary of $47.3 million he could have earned this season from his player option. Harden arrived on the trade deadline in Philadelphia last season in a blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and draft picks.

While his stint in Philadelphia started off well, the season ended on a very disappointing note for the former MVP. His outburst seemingly left him after coping with injuries and poor fitness in Brooklyn, and in the team’s season-ending loss to the Miami Heat, Harden attempted just two shots in the second half as the 76ers were knocked out on their home floor. Given his age (33 in August), many speculated that Harden no longer warranted a major contract.

He’ll still get one, but the pay cut he’s taking will give the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign former Rockets teammate PJ Tucker for the non-taxpayer middle exception and Daniel House Jr. for the biennial exception. Many players talk a big game about sacrificing money to win. Harden really does it here.

Of course, he also earns an extra year of financial security with that player option. Both the Nets and Rockets offered long-term extensions to Harden, but he declined on both fronts. That allowed him to make his way into the 76ers, and with his fall in value, taking a multi-year deal, even at a small discount, mitigated some of the risk of further decline.

The 76ers hope Harden can stave off that decline for a while. With Tucker and House joining a team that already had MVP candidate Joel Embiid, breakout star Tyrese Maxey and incumbent max player Tobias Harris, a healthy and engaged Harden could still take them deep into the playoffs. The 76ers have a short title window in front of them. Harden’s deal helps them maximize it.

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