Harden might be willing to help Sixers with cap room: report


James Harden's first postseason with the Sixers has been... underwhelming.

The former MVP is averaging 18.8 points and 9.5 assists per game while shooting a paltry 40.2% from the field. He's shooting 34.8% from deep, a respectable number, on nearly six attempts per game and his assist numbers could be higher if his teammates hit their shots.

But overall it's not exactly been a banner playoff run so far for the Sixers' key trade deadline acquisition, the guy who we all hoped had an extra gear for the postseason.

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And Harden is set to be a free agent this offseason, which leads to the obvious question that'll be debated ad nauseum when the Sixers' season ends: is Harden worth a big-money contract?

The guy turns 33 this summer, is clearly in decline, and has been dealing with a nagging hamstring problem across two seasons. It's pretty hard to say the Sixers should pay Harden the max contract for which he's eligible, which would pay The Beard roughly $270 million over the next five seasons.

But... what if he's willing to take less?

It sure sounds like that's on the table, according to reporting from The Athletic's Sam Amick on the Athletic NBA Show this week:

"FRED KATZ: I wonder if this makes [the Sixers] any more prone to just doing whatever they can to bring in one more max guy. Because Harden, he could take a little bit less.


"SAM AMICK: When the Sixers got [Harden], their intel was that he would be potentially willing to take less. And obviously nobody knows him better than Daryl [Morey]. That wouldn't shock me at all, as a possible solution out of this."

Hmmm. Very interesting.

Obviously the operative word here is "less", and the key is just how much less. Because Harden isn't going to surrender a ton of money just to help an organization he joined months prior. This is his last opportunity to cash in on big-time NBA money, and the guy has a post-career life to think about. I don't blame him! Cash those checks!

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But odds are good Morey will make it clear to Harden and his team that the full max isn't happening, because he simply hasn't played at the full max level and it would impede the Sixers' ability to win - which of course includes Harden's ability to win.

If the Sixers think they'll be able to part with Tobias Harris in some sort of sign-and-trade deal with the Wizards for Bradley Beal, I'm sure that's an idea Morey could sell to Harden. Beal is one of Those Guys that everyone acknowledges is a star, and he'd change the calculus on the Sixers team immediately. They'd be the favorites out of the East.

I just wonder how low Harden will be willing to go, money-wise, if he's being sold the *possibility* of the Sixers adding another big-name, big-money guy vs. a concrete plan. I know that, were I him, I'd need something pretty iron-clad before I surrendered millions.

We'll see what happens. Hopefully Harden can help Morey and the Sixers out, return on a below-max deal (still lots of money!) and the Sixers can get legitimately better heading into a crucial 2022-23 season.

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