The Philadelphia 76ers and NBA guard James Harden are still working out the last-minute elements of a one-plus-one deal. It will see him accept a $15 million discount. The Philadelphia 76ers worked hard to improve the depth surrounding their core group while keeping their summer busy. The most crucial aspect of the offseason was keeping James Harden, but how much money he took would determine how much they could pay free agents to improve the roster.
Harden, on the other hand, chose to accept a two-year, $64 million contract instead of exercising his player option for $47 million, which would have resulted in a salary decrease. By accepting less money than he could have earned the following year, Philly was able to sign PJ Tucker, the tenacious defender Joel Embiid and company so direly needed. With the money left over, they added Danuel House and Trevelin Queen on smaller contracts and traded Danny Green, who was injured, to Memphis in exchange for a first-round pick for De’Anthony Melton.
Harden told reporters:
“I had conversations with Daryl, and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over. This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That’s all that matters to me at this stage. I’m willing to take less to put us in position to accomplish that.”
It’s uncommon for a top player to have that much faith in the front office after less than a year with the organization to accept less and have faith that the appropriate deal will be negotiated, but Harden and Morey’s history dating back to their time as the Rockets enabled that kind of communication. It also benefits that Harden is in a career phase where victory is his top priority.
While he did accept a lower offer in the short term, there is some benefit for him in agreeing to a two-year contract in Philadelphia. Since it ensures that his hamstring issue from the previous two seasons persists, he will have the opportunity to pick up a $32 million contract next summer. It would be false to portray Harden’s choice as entirely selfless, but he clearly put his money where his mouth was when it came to assuring the Sixers could enhance their squad, and that’s admirable.