No one was shocked when James Harden decided to opt out of his $47.4 million contract. The shock came when the Beard agreed to a new $32 million per season contract for the next two years with a player option for the 2023-2024 season. James Harden took a $15 million pay cut??
To improve the Sixers roster.
All Harden wants this offseason is to improve his chances of winning a championship alongside Joel Embiid. On his third team in the last three seasons, Harden made the sacrifice of taking less money so Daryl Morey could build a more competitive Sixers roster this season.
"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," Harden told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. "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 a position to accomplish that."
The Sixers, who were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last season, hope their new acquisitions, PJ Tucker and Danuel House Jr., improve their chances next season. Tucker's addition, in particular, will boost the squad's shooting, defensive intensity, and rebounding. Morey also made sure to put familiar faces around Harden, a sign that the general manager is building the team for Embiid and The Beard.
In typical Harden fashion
The Sixers' latest transactions may help bolster the team's chances this season, but at the end of the day, the Sixers will only reach their ceiling if Harden returns to his peak form. Last season, Harden averaged his lowest points per game (21.0) since the 2011-2012 season, AKA his third year in the league. He was criticized for not being in shape, and it was clear that he lacked his usual speed and burst, especially when he drove to the rim.
However, Harden believes that his hamstring injury got in his way and felt that he still performed quite well despite having to adjust to a new city, coach, teammates, and system.
"I don't really listen to what people are saying. I wasn't right last season and I still almost averaged a triple-double," Harden told Haynes. "If anybody else had those numbers, we'd be talking about them getting the max. People were used to seeing me averaging 40, 30 points, and so they viewed it as a down year. I was in Philadelphia for a couple of months and I had to learn on the fly. That's just what it was. I'm in a good space physically and mentally right now, and I'm just looking forward to next season."
Harden's decision to take a $15 million discount was admirable but moving forward, he should no longer be excused if he fails to succeed. He admits he's now healthy after a full offseason to rehab his injuries. All eyes will be on a healthier and more fit James Harden next season as he hopes to bounce back from one of the worst seasons in his career.