James Harden explains why he took less money to stay with 76ers

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

James Harden declined his player option to take less money to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers.

When it came to James Harden opting out of his $47.4 million player option to take less money from the Philadelphia 76ers, it was all about allocating the financial resources to be in a better position to acquire more quality players.

While the deal is not yet finalized, Harden plans to sign a two-year deal that would net him over $32 million in 2022-23, with a player option for 2023-34. Rapidly approaching his age-33 season out of Arizona State, Harden understands the clock is ticking on him being an integral part on any team he plays on winning a championship. He is Philadelphia’s No. 2 option to Joel Embiid already.

Harden explained why he decided to take less money in an interview with The Associated Press.

"“Taking less money this year to sign as many players as we needed to help us contend and be the last team standing was very, very important to me,” said Harden to The Associated Press. “I wanted to show the organization, the Sixers fans and everybody else who supports what we’re trying to accomplish, what I’m trying to accomplish individually, that this is what I’m about.”"

Philadelphia has not gotten past the Eastern Conference Semifinals since “The Process” began.

James Harden explained why he took less money to stay with Philadelphia 76ers

Since declining his player option, the 76ers have signed players like P.J. Tucker and Danuel House in free agency, both of whom played with Harden on the Houston Rockets. While 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey was also running the show in Houston then, it is pretty clear what type of veteran role players best fit around Harden’s game. But what about Embiid’s game?

Admittedly, there was a finite ceiling to what an NBA team could be with Harden as its best player. We all saw how that played out in Houston. If everything goes according to plan, they can lose to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and miss all of the 3-pointers they take. The good news for the 76ers is Harden is firmly their No. 2, and about to the their No. 3…

Yes, in an ideal scenario, emerging star Tyrese Maxey will have the breakout year everyone is expecting him to. It may not fully arrive until next postseason, but a team with Embiid as an MVP candidate, Maxey scoring at will out on the perimeter and Harden being an elite facilitating scoring guard, that is a trio that could be hard to handle in the postseason. The stars have to align, though.

While it is always admirable when a star player like Harden takes less money, we all know that would not have been the case for him even a few years ago. Though NBA contracts are fully-guaranteed and there are plenty of endorsement opportunities to be had elsewhere, not every team will allocate those vacated resources effectively. At least Harden and Morey are aligned…

No doubt about it, this is a critical year for 76ers basketball, as Harden could opt out after 2023.

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