The 2023 postseason ended in disappointment for the Philadelphia 76ers. With a 3-2 series lead they lost the next two games to the Celtics. That was their third postseason in a row losing in the Semi-finals. With free agency not starting until June 30, the Sixers have some time to decide what they want to do with James Harden. NBA insiders say that the Philadelphia 76ers have not shown any motivation to pay him a max contract.
Sources around the league have already reported that the 10-time all-star is going to opt out of his $35.6 million player option for next season. Many have speculated that Harden will be doing this to return to the Houston Rockets. Others think this is leverage in order to get the Sixers to pay him more money.
After the Sixers’ loss in Game 7, they fired head coach Doc Rivers after three seasons. Harden has voiced his want to be able to play freely on the court with his next head coach. His relationship with Rivers was not the greatest.
The 76ers have not shown an appetite to pay James Harden the max, per @WindhorstESPN pic.twitter.com/FzzbSJM9Ga
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 24, 2023
Philly has not shown interest in signing James Harden to a max contract
This past season, the 76ers asked James Harden to take a pay cut. That could be a major factor in why the 33-year-old PG wants a max contract this offseason. ESPN’s Brain Windhorst noted Philadelphia may be Harden’s best chance of obtaining another max contract.
Harden knows his time in the NBA is limited. Not every player can play at a superstar level for their entire career. Only the elite ones do. That’s why the 2017-18 MVP wants to cash in now on a max contract. At this stage in his career, it may not be an option for him anymore.
He’s not the same player he once was on the offensive end. At least scoring-wise. Harden did lead the league in assists per game last season, but his offensive explosiveness is not the same. It’s possible that he’s deserving of a max contract at the moment. However, it’s hard to predict where Harden will be in two to three seasons from now.