Why team-friendly James Harden’s two-year contract is perfect for the 76ers and makes sense for him too

Simply minutes later Philadelphia 76ers They have been defeated by Miami Warmth Within the Japanese Convention semi-finals, James Harden was requested a easy query by a reporter: Is Harden, a suspended free agent, taking a short-term pay lower with a view to assist the Sixers construct the remainder of the roster round Harden and runner-up Joel Embiid ?

Harden answered the query diplomatically on the time, and gave the next response: “I will be right here. [I’ll do] No matter it takes to assist this group proceed to develop, and put us there to one of the best of their means. We try to win a championship. That is the purpose. No matter its form.

Harden’s feedback sounded good on the time, however there have been many who have been skeptical that he would really observe. As we now know, although, Harden has already fulfilled his phrase The $47 million participant choice was rejected For the 2022-23 season as an alternative Comply with a brand new two-year deal Which can pay him $32 million subsequent season and features a participant choice for the second season.

By carving out $15 million from his due subsequent season, Harden, 32, created monetary flexibility for the Sixers this summer time — flexibility the group has used to spice up the roster with additions like PJ Tucker and Danuel Home. Such autographs wouldn’t have been potential had Harden not left some bread on the desk. Moreover, the group was capable of retain Harden whereas on the similar time avoiding the long-term dedication of the older participant. For these causes alone, Harden’s new deal ought to be thought of a serious victory for Philadelphia.

Given his efficiency throughout the postseason — 18.6 factors, 10.5 assists and 5.7 rebounds per sport — the Sixers probably had some reservations concerning Harden’s long-term view as an influential participant. These reservations are shared by a lot of critics and a variety of followers. It’s clear that one of the best participant within the earlier league continues to be very efficient as a playmaker and a ground separator. His absolute presence on Earth attracts the defenses’ consideration in a method that none of his earlier Embiid colleagues had ever achieved. Nevertheless, he did not appear to be the identical killer scorer he as soon as was when he was all the time nominated as one of the best participant within the sport as a member of the Houston Rockets.

Harden wasn’t essentially a top-level athlete, however he appeared sluggish at instances throughout his first season with the Sixers, at instances displaying a marked lack of drive. He had a tough time getting previous the defenders within the ocean, and a equally powerful time getting previous the defenders across the edge. With out that sprint as an offensive deal with he displayed for a decade in Houston, Harden needed to rely closely on three-pointers and free throws to supply factors.

If the Sixers signal Harden on an enormous four- or five-year extension, there’s an actual probability such a deal might turn into a legal responsibility on the again finish. Over-commitment to a participant [potentially] Diminishing a ability set could be very expensive, as it might probably hinder a group’s means to enhance sooner or later. The group hedged this by signing Harden on a 1+1 deal, which is able to present an prolonged alternative to see what he appears like bodily after a full coaching stint. That ought to assist the group get a greater gauge of how a lot premium gasoline Harden left within the proverbial tank. Keep in mind he was coping with his hamstring harm as a member of Brooklyn Networks Throughout his final off season, so admittedly he did not get as a lot alternative to coach at a excessive degree as he would have appreciated and that has affected his efficiency.

“I have been making an attempt to get by means of the trajectory of the basketball season for 2 years in a row,” Harden mentioned in Could. “It is like, ‘That is not all. You realize what I imply?’ All final summer time I have been rehab. It was a bit of irritating as a result of I wasn’t used to going by means of one thing like this, however it’s what it’s. I am simply glad to be wholesome now I’ve a complete summer time to be straight and do the issues needed to come back again higher subsequent 12 months.”

Along with seeing how Harden appears bodily, the Sixers will now additionally get [much] Bigger pattern dimension to guage the suitability of Harden alongside Embiid. Early returns on this pair have been promising, particularly within the pick-and-roll sport, however they have been restricted. So, fairly than pin Harden as Embiid’s assistant function for the foreseeable future, the Sixers will consider the duo over the course of subsequent season after which transfer on from there. If all goes properly, the Sixers might re-sign Harden once more subsequent summer time (or subsequent). If not, the 2 events might half methods alongside the identical schedule. On this case, the Sixers are properly positioned for any eventuality.

Whereas the deal is stable for the Sixers, it is smart for Harden as properly. Positive, he loses cash within the quick time period, however he will get extra gross revenue over the lifetime of the contract if he makes his 23-24 marketing campaign selection. Plus, the deal basically offers him an opportunity to spice up his stock. If he goes out and has a stellar season and exhibits his expertise do not maintain again, he’ll put himself ready to safe one other huge pay day subsequent summer time. If not, he’ll at the very least have the security of an additional season at an exorbitant value level to fall again on.

Positive, Harden could have pulled more cash out of the scenario, however there are different the explanation why the deal is helpful to him – and the truth that the Sixers offers him a superb alternative to proceed competing for his first title – defined Harden, who has already raised greater than $250 million from His profession earnings – that is what’s most necessary to him at this level in his profession. Additionally, placing the group first, as Harden appears to have achieved right here, helps fight any lingering “it is egocentric” narratives.

Time will reveal how good the brand new Harden deal actually is, however for now it actually appears like a smart deal for either side.

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