NBA free agency 2022: James Harden agrees to two-year, $68.6 million deal with 76ers, report says

After weeks of negotiations, All-Star guard James Harden has agreed to return to the Philadelphia 76ers on a two-year contract worth $68.6 million. by Adrian Wojnarowski. Harden will have a second-year player option.

Harden, who was traded to the Sixers before the deadline last season in a blockbuster deal that sent Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets, declined his $47.3 million option for next season in order to touch free agency. His annual salary of around $34 million for this new contract represents a significant discount.

While Harden will lose money in the short term, he should make it up in the long term. He will now be able to retire and enter free agency again next summer when more teams have maximum space and he can earn up to $46.5 million a year. He also said he made the decision in order to help the Sixers win.

“I had conversations with [team president] Daryl [Morey], and it was explained how we can improve and what the market value is for some players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever was left,” Harden said in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports. “That’s how much I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That’s all that matters to me at this point. I’m willing to take less to put us in a position to accomplish this.”

A championship is the only major element missing from Harden’s resume. He appeared in the Conference Finals four times during his career, twice with the Oklahoma City Thunder and twice with the Houston Rockets. However, he only reached the final once – 2012 with the Thunder, when they lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

While Harden’s teams have often lost to better opponents in these series, he also has a history of underperforming in big playoff moments. Last season’s second-round loss to the Miami Heat in six games was the latest example. With Joel Embiid out for the first two games and playing with multiple serious injuries the rest of the way, the Sixers needed Harden to step in. Aside from Game 4, he didn’t. He averaged 18.2 points on 40.5 percent shooting for the series and didn’t score in the fourth quarter in Games 5 or 6.

Thanks to Harden’s discount, the Sixers were able to add PJ Tucker, Danuel House and reigning G League MVP Trevelin Queen in free agency. They also traded for versatile guard De’Anthony Melton on draft night. With these additions and a healthy Embiid, the Sixers will have a chance to rival the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks at the top of the Eastern Conference.

But even with a better supporting cast, the fate of the Sixers ultimately hangs on Harden. They won’t be able to beat either of those teams in a playoff series if they aren’t at their best. Harden, for his part, is confident he can do it and attributed last season’s disappointment to not being 100 per cent and joining a new situation.

“I don’t really listen to what people say. I wasn’t right last season and still almost averaged a triple-double,” Harden said. “If anyone else had those numbers, we’d be talking about them getting the max. People used to see me average 40, 30 points, and so they looked at it as a down year. I was in Philadelphia for a few months and had to learn on the fly. That’s exactly what it was. I’m in a good space physically and mentally right now, and looking forward to next season. .

With his contract situation finally settled, he can now fully focus on his goal of bringing a title to Philadelphia.

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