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May 17, 2023

NBA rumors: James Harden to opt out of Sixers contract

A new report suggests that James Harden will opt out of his contract with the Sixers to become a free agent this offseason.

Even with a pair of 40-point efforts against Boston, James Harden's Sixers tenure thus far has been defined by the Game 7 clunker he and the team put up in the Eastern Conference Semifinals this spring. Rumors have swirled about Harden's future in Philly with his ability to opt out of his contract this summer with a player option worth $36.5 million on the table. His decisions this offseason will dictate the future health of this franchise. 

A new report from Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes indicates that Harden will opt out of his deal and become a free agent this offseason. 

Here's more from Haynes:

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden intends to decline his $35.6 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent this summer in order to secure a long-term deal, league sources tell Bleacher Report.

Harden, 33, took a sizable pay cut last offseason to help the Sixers build the roster out. The guard will now be seeking a four-year contract.

The 10-time All-Star is coming off a year averaging 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and a league-leading 10.7 assists.

The Houston Rockets have long been a rumored destination, but sources say Harden will only entertain suitors that present a competitive roster and the basketball freedom for the star to be himself, sources say.

At the moment, the Sixers are the only logical option, coming off a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference in the regular season. But the dynamic in Philadelphia will undoubtedly change next season, considering the Sixers have to find the right coach after dismissing Doc Rivers. 

If Houston is all in on a Harden reunion, it will take some roster reconstructing to entice Harden. Houston has a promising young core that includes Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun, along with the No. 4 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, but the team tied for the worst record in the Western Conference last season (22-60). [B/R]

Harden opting out, even if he's keen on staying in Philly, has essentially been a formality. That's the best way for him to lock in long-term money whether he's playing for the Sixers or someone else entirely. 

The noise about Harden returning to Houston isn't stopping, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that the 10-time All-Star is "very serious" about rejoining the Rockets.

Even with yet another second-round flameout, the Sixers continue to perpetually dominate the news cycle. Dare I throw out a Dallas Cowboys comp? Stay tuned for more on Harden, the Sixers' coaching search, and other unpredictable paths the franchise will take over the next several months. 

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