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NBA insider suggests Philadelphia 76ers could seek pay cut on next James Harden contract

Jason Burgos
philadelphia 76ers, james harden
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

One notable NBA expert says that no one in the leagues expects the Philadelphia 76ers to offer their superstar scorer James Harden a max contract in the offseason.

The 76ers are still reeling from their Thursday Game 6 loss to the Miami Heat and elimination from the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The team put forth a disappointing performance at home and Harden left much to be desired after an 11-point night on 4 -of-9 shooting from the field. It was not the kind of outing Philadelphia decision-makers were hoping for in a big game when they acquired him at the NBA trade deadline.

Next season, the former Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets star has a player option worth over $47 million dollars. He is expected to exercise the option, however, the 14-time All-Star is also eligible for a multi-year extension worth $223 million dollars this summer. Following the trade, and after basking in the glow of being free from their drama with former starting point guard Ben Simmons, it seemed likely the team would offer Harden that extension and keep him and MVP candidate Joel Embiid together for many seasons to come. Well, things have changed a lot since then.

‘Nobody in NBA’ expects Philadelphia 76ers to offer James Harden max extension

philadelphia 76ers, james harden
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The team was eliminated from the playoffs much earlier than many expected, and to a squad with only one bonafide superstar. Due to the fact that the Embiid-Harden combo did not deliver on the promise, and the 17-year veteran is likely on a career decline, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst recently reported, during an appearance on the network’s show “Get Up,” that a summer extension is not at all expected to happen. And Harden may need to take a pay cut if he wants to stay in Philadelphia.

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“I think at this point, nobody in the NBA believes that the Sixers are going to give James Harden a max contract,” Windhorst said. “So the question is, what is he willing to do? The framework — you can look at what happened with Chris Paul last year with the Suns — he opted out of a $44 million deal for this year and actually took a $14 million dollar pay cut. And then is taking another pay-cut next year with the theory the Suns are going to be able to keep that championship-level team together.

“Is James Harden prepared to do that?” he continued. “Or will he just opt-in and say, ‘I’ve got a $47 million option, that’s what you’re going to pay me., and maybe face only a one-year deal. These are the questions that are going to happen over the next couple of months. I can tell you this, no matter what you think about [76ers general manager] Daryl Morey and his team building, Morey always thinks big and he will have a plan for this summer to improve this roster. But he may need James Harden on board with it.”

With many now questioning Harden’s true desire to win a championship, it will be very interesting to see if the 32-year-old is really willing to pass up maybe his last major long-term payday to make a pairing with Embiid work for the next few seasons. Chances are he prefers the money.