While the Philadelphia 76ers have seen a lot of success as a team since James Harden came over in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, there are some warning signs about the future.
Looking at Harden, he still performs at a high-level, but it’s no secret that his next contract will more than likely end up being his last big deal in the NBA, so he’ll be looking to cash in.
In the offseason, he can sign a $240 million extension that would take him into the twilight of his career at 37 years old. If Harden can age gracefully like LeBron James, then this contract wouldn’t be a horrible thing. However, some people are seeing a new James Harden already, and the Sixers version of him already looks like he’s on the decline.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst believes Harden is slowing down already, and he doesn’t seem all that excited to throw out big money if he were running a team.
Harden on the Decline?
Speaking on The Hoop Collect Podcast, Windhorst thinks the decision to hand out a max extension isn’t as simple as it seems.
Number one, I’m looking at him in these big games and watching him continue to struggle, and number two, I’m thinking about him sitting down at the table and asking for a $240 million contract this offseason, or whatever the number is going to be,” he said as transcribed by Bleacher Report. “And both of those make me scratch my head, man. I’m doing it right now. I know it’s just a couple games, but Spears, it looks like he lost a step to me, man. It’s not a guy I’d be really excited about giving $200 million to.”
Harden has had a lot of critics over the years commenting on his inability to show up in big games, and this was also a factor in the March 27 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
It’s tough to say if his inconsistencies with the Sixers are a sign of things to come or if he’s simply dealing with the nagging hamstring injury.
Lots of Money
At the end of the day, it’s hard to envision a world where the Sixers don’t throw massive money at Harden in the offseason because there’s no way they would’ve traded Ben Simmons for him if they didn’t assume he’d be with them for the long haul.
In today’s NBA, it’s all about maximizing your championship window, and with Joel Embiid being a constant MVP candidate, it makes perfect sense to surround him with big talents like Harden.
If Harden doesn’t resign with the Sixers, he’ll just get his massive payday from another team looking to get over the hump. Even if he’s on the decline, that won’t stop a team from opening up their checkbook and giving everything they can for the talents of the superstar.
A lot of what the Sixers could do will come from what happens in the playoffs. If the team fizzles out and Harden is a big part of it, then the two sides could part ways.
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