Skip to main content

Should the Philadelphia 76ers give James Harden the supermax?

$61 million at 37 years old??? Would you make that bet on Harden staying in shape?
Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey

Daryl Morey and James Harden

When Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers traded for James Harden last February, it seemed like it was a steal. Not only did the Sixers get rid of Ben Simmons (and the baggage he brings), but they also received another All-Star to pair up with MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who's been on a tear this season.

But as the season progressed, little did the Sixers know that they acquired a different version of Harden. Not the Harden who won the MVP in 2018 by averaging 30.4 points a game but a completely different player who seems to have lost his burst, ability to drive relentlessly on the paint, and dominate the perimeter.

This season, Harden is averaging his lowest point per game (21.0) since 2012, lowest 3-point (32.6%), and field goal average (40.2%) average in his career.

And there's always that thing where The Beard disappears when his team needs him most. In the ongoing playoffs, Harden has barely been a difference-maker for his team — averaging just 18.8 points, 9.4 assists, and 5.4 rebounds a game in just 34.8% 3-point shooting in the post-season.

That said, the critical question that looms for the Sixers moving forward is whether or not Harden is worth giving another supermax extension to. According to ESPN'S Brian Windhorst, Harden is likely opting in his $47.4 million contract for next season and will reportedly negotiate with the Sixers on his next contract.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

The pros of extending Harden's contract

If you want to look at this positively, extending Harden next season would mean that the Sixers could be a contending team for a while. The 28-year-old Embiid isn't getting any younger and needs all the perimeter help he can get.

Yes, there are enough sample games to conclude that Harden is no longer the player he once was. Still, it would be disingenuous for the Sixers to let an asset walk away from them if they don't prioritize Harden's supermax extension. Remember, the Sixers also gave up Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks when they traded for Harden, which means if they let the All-Star walk, they won't be getting anything back in return.

The Sixers must do everything they can to get the best out of Harden. After all, it's only been two and a half months since the trade, and maybe Harden will eventually find his stride under Doc Rivers' system. (Or whoever coaches the Sixers next year.)

Another reason for optimism is that Embiid and Harden will get one whole offseason to work together this year and allow the Sixers to build a more competent roster around them.

The cons of extending Harden's contract

Harden's performance as of late certainly doesn't merit the kind of money he'll be receiving, so his impending contract is going to be a massive gamble on the Sixers' end. Everyone predicted his lifestyle and lack of dedication to conditioning would negatively impact Harden's aging. Paying such a player $61 million at age 37 could destroy the Sixers for this decade.

Will Philadelphia be patient enough to believe that Harden can still turn his performance around? Or will they consider trading their newly acquired superstar to avoid losing an asset? Harden is an aging superstar who's now showing signs of his decline. He has to be better for his team and his reputation.

Would you make a quarter of a billion-dollar bet that Harden will pull a Chris Paul, go on a plant-based diet, workout all summer and impose a curfew for himself and his teammates in the playoffs? 

Tony Parker just wanted to make it to the NBA, and ended up becoming a legend in the process

Tony Parker shares what made it so hard to make it in the NBA as a European point guard back in the day

Tony Parker accomplished so much throughout his illustrious career, but his only goal initially was just to make it in the NBA

John Salley compares Luka Doncic to Larry Bird

John Salley says he would fear Luka Doncic the same way he feared Larry Bird

It might be too early to draw parallels between Larry Bird and Luka Doncic. But according to John Salley, both possess the same fear factor on the court.


Patrick Beverly disrespects the 2020 Lakers championship: "The Bubble Championship"

LeBron might think that was one of the hardest championships to win in NBA history, but Pat Bev is not having it!

Is it time for Chris Paul to retire?

Is it time for Chris Paul to retire?

This Playoff run exposed Chris Paul’s age more than ever. Gone are the days when he had all energy, pop, and even to an extent, durability to stay on the court.

Isiah Thomas criticism of Chris Paul still stands

Isiah Thomas’ past criticisms of Chris Paul still rings true: "He has to push past safe"

Isiah Thomas claimed Chris Paul was playing too safe to maintain his good stats. The Hall of Famer wanted CP3 to take some risks to win games.


Matt Barnes calls Patrick Beverly a clown for the Chris Paul slander: "You're not that guy"

Barnes went in on Pat Bev: "Chris Paul played terrible this series and his numbers are still better than your career numbers have ever been."

Patrick Beverley wouldn't mind joining LeBron James and the Lakers

Patrick Beverley on playing with the Los Angeles Lakers if he had the chance: “I wouldn’t even hesitate”

Patrick Beverley admitted that there's nothing like playing for the Lakers franchise

JJ Redick explains why Eric Gordon could've helped Phoenix Suns in the playoffs

JJ Redick explains why Eric Gordon could've helped Phoenix Suns in the playoffs

The Phoenix Suns fans wanted Eric Gordon but the front office panned their wishes.