June 16, 2022
Sixers president Daryl Morey said at the end of the season that, with some work, James Harden would be back, and now it looks like both sides are on the same page.
According to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, Harden is expected to return to the Sixers on a "shorter-term" contract extension, with both parties believing that the current core gives them their best shot at an NBA title.
"Harden and Sixers leadership are aligned on one clear directive, sources said: The franchise's best opportunity to compete for a championship starring Joel Embiid, as well as Harden's optimal opportunity to earn his first NBA ring, resides with Harden playing in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
"Sixers ownership, though, has been resistant to the idea of giving Harden a full four-year maximum contract extension beyond his 2022-23 option season, sources told B/R, or the five-year deal that Harden would be eligible for if he chose to decline his $47.4 million player option for next season. Signing perhaps a two-year extension after his option season to create a new three-year framework would also provide Harden with greater optionality for his own career." [Bleacher Report]
Harden is expected to pick up his 2022-23 player option, according to Fischer, which is worth just shy of $47.4 million. What he and the Sixers work out for a salary and term beyond that will have to be seen once the free-agent negotiation period opens at 6 p.m. on June 30.
Harden, who will turn 33 in August, was the key return for the Sixers in the Ben Simmons trade with Brooklyn back in February. And while there was an initial spark in his first few games sharing the floor with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, it became clear that he had lost a step or two down the stretch, which only became more and more evident in the playoffs.
Regardless, the Sixers appear to be running things back with Embiid, Harden, and coach Doc Rivers, and are reportedly looking at their trade options with Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, and the 23rd overall pick in next year's draft.
Morey was also rumored last month to have plans of going out and getting another star.
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