James Harden will open the 2023-2024 season on an expiring contract that pays him $35,640,000 for a 12 months of labor. Harden, on the point of his thirty fourth birthday, would be the twenty eighth highest paid participant within the NBA at that quantity. He’ll earn much less cash subsequent season than C.J. McCollum, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Fred VanVleet, simply to call a couple of.
Harden’s dissatisfaction with the Philadelphia 76ers and subsequent commerce request all come again to that contract. Harden believed the Sixers would reward him with a long-term deal after he took a $15 million pay reduce final season to permit Philly to signal function gamers P.J. Tucker and Danuel Home in free company. Any type of settlement that will have Harden take much less now for extra sooner or later is strictly prohibited by league guidelines, but it surely isn’t onerous to attach the dots as Harden went viral once more this week for repeatedly calling Sixers president Daryl Morey a liar throughout a visit to China.
Harden didn’t simply depart $15 million on the desk in an try to assist his staff, although. Harden had each alternative to lock in at a quantity that will have made him the NBA’s highest paid participant. He selected to show it down.
The Brooklyn Nets reportedly supplied Harden a three-year, $161 million extension forward of the 2021-2022 season. Harden turned it down partially as a result of he could be eligible to signal a four-year, $227 million supply the subsequent summer season.
Everybody is aware of what occurred subsequent:
- Harden grew annoyed in Brooklyn the subsequent season, partially as a result of Kyrie Irving was largely held out of the lineup for refusing to get the Covid vaccine.
- Harden began to distance himself from the Nets, taking a number of private journeys to social gathering through the season, based on Bleacher Report.
- Harden primarily pushed his method to Philadelphia, the place he was traded for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and a future draft choose.
The Sixers have been eradicated within the second spherical by the Miami Warmth in Harden’s first season. After the 12 months, Harden opted out of his $47.3 million participant choice. He finally signed a two-year deal that paid him $33 million within the first season with a participant choice on 12 months No. 2.
Harden mentioned he took much less cash to assist the Sixers win, however he by no means appeared glad about it. From the beginning of final season, there have been rumors that Harden was looking for to get his max contract from the Houston Rockets, the staff the place he grew to become a perennial MVP candidate earlier in his profession. The Rockets might need gone for it … till they signed Ime Udoka as head coach. Udoka reportedly didn’t need Harden on the staff, and as a substitute Houston gave out huge cash contracts to VanVleet and Dillon Brooks.
After one other second spherical playoff loss this previous season to the Boston Celtics, the Sixers got here to the conclusion that Harden wasn’t a adequate co-star for Joel Embiid long-term. Harden opted into his participant choice for this 12 months and demanded a commerce, solely as a result of he knew there wasn’t a max deal on the market for him as soon as Houston went in a special route.
Harden turning down the Nets’ preliminary max extension makes him a rarity in right this moment’s NBA. Normally, the participant takes the cash, after which asks for a commerce to a brand new dwelling. Perhaps Harden already knew he didn’t wish to be in Brooklyn. Perhaps it actually was all about getting as much as the $227 million max quantity a 12 months later. Both method, between the time Harden declined the extension and now, all the NBA agreed that he’s now not a max participant.
Bradley Beal took the cash from the Wizards, acquired traded to Phoenix (partially as a result of he negotiated a no-trade clause and acquired to select his vacation spot), and can be underneath contract via 2026-2027 when he has a $57.1 million participant choice. Damian Lillard took the cash from Portland, and is underneath contract via 2027 with a $63.2 million choice within the remaining 12 months. Karl-Anthony Cities, who looks like he’s been in commerce rumors most of his profession, additionally took the cash from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and can be underneath contract via 2028, the place he’ll earn $61 million on a participant choice.
It’s straightforward to see why Harden’s so upset proper now: He performed himself pondering groups would all the time contemplate him a max participant whilst he acquired older. As he slipped from celebrity to All-Star, each staff on the market determined he wasn’t price that kind of contract.
Morey by some means acquired precisely what he needed out of Harden: a star guard who would take much less cash to play with Joel Embiid and permit the staff so as to add extra items. When Harden’s deal expires subsequent summer season, the Sixers can be outfitted with two near-max wage slots the place they’ll hope to lure a prime veteran free agent to play with Embiid.
After all, Harden is attempting to sabotage the entire thing proper now and take Embiid down with him. Harden and Morey’s private relationship, as soon as so nice, looks as if it’s completed. Harden solely has himself responsible.