James Harden’s Contract After Taking Massive Pay Cut

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers, NBA Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

There have been numerous times when a player hits NBA free agency that they say they will do what is best for the organization. But, when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is, they don’t budge in negotiations and take top dollar.

That was a dilemma that many thought the Philadelphia 76ers would run into with James Harden. The team acquired Harden from the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the trade deadline, along with Paul Millsap, in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks.

As part of that deal, it was believed that James Harden would opt into his contract for the 2022-23 season, but he missed the deadline to do so. Once the season wrapped up, Harden reversed course, declining his player option.

Many people presumed James Harden would hold out for as much money as possible, as he was eligible for a max contract worth $223 million. After seeing how he performed upon being traded to the 76ers, that was not something Philadelphia could consciously do if they wanted to maintain any flexibility going forward.

Some rumors were floating around that Harden could take less money to help the team build up the roster. It was one of those things that many said we will believe when we see it. Well, Harden put his money where his mouth is, as he took a massive pay cut to help the 76ers facilitate some other moves.

LATEST NBA NEWS AND TRADE RUMORS: NBA Executive Doesn’t Hold Back About Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden’s Decline

Harden is taking a $15 million pay cut according to Shams Charania that enabled Daryl Morey to elevate the roster elsewhere. The goal is a championship in 2023, as Harden is signing a two-year deal that includes a player option for the 2023-24 season.

Everyone is on the same page when it comes to this deal. Winning a championship is the No. 1 goal. The relationship that Harden has with Morey and Michael Rubin played a big part as both sides are putting a lot of trust in the other.

The 76ers were able to sign P.J. Tucker away from the Miami Heat this offseason and also acquired De’Anthony Melton from the Memphis Grizzlies. Both players fill holes on the roster, as Tucker provides an upgrade over Georges Niang and Matisse Thybulle. Philadelphia lacked a backup point guard, a role Melton can now fill.

LATEST NBA NEWS AND TRADE RUMORS: NBA Executive Doesn’t Hold Back About Philadelphia 76ers’ James Harden’s Decline

Harden not signing for the max should also alleviate the need to trade away Tobias Harris, whom Philadelphia had considered moving to slash some salary. That makes the rotation even stronger, as Harris was one of their most consistent contributors throughout the postseason.