Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden hasn’t yet flexed his player option for the 2022-23 season. He’s expected to do it, but there is a chance he could decide to enter free agency. The deadline for that decision is June 29.
Sixers brass and Harden’s agency are rumored to be negotiating the details on a team-friendly deal. Maybe he takes a pay cut to add a “third star.” Meanwhile, Harden will be heading to California this summer to play in the Drew League after officially announcing his partnership with King Drew and Adidas.
The Drew League is a pro-am basketball showcase that has been held every summer in Los Angeles since 1973. Their 49th season tipped off on June 4 on the courts at King/Drew Magnet High School in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles and games are being live streamed on Caffeine.
Harden figures to be one of the more high-profile players involved in 2022. There are 10 teams in two divisions for a total of 20 squads, with 16 qualifying for the playoffs. The championship game is slated for August 21. “No Excuse, Just Produce” is the league’s motto.
“King Drew continues to be the center of the L.A. community and I’m excited for this next gen under the Three Stripes,” Harden wrote on Instagram. “See you this summer ya diggggggg!”
Harden famously starred in the Drew League during the 2011 NBA lockout where he battled Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles native won a championship in 2015 while playing for the Los Angeles Unified Team and scored 37 points in the title game. Harden swished a three-pointer with 30 seconds left to clinch a 98-93 victory en route to Players Choice MVP honors.
According to The Athletic’s Law Murray, the Drew League will bring six pro-am leagues from across the nation together in Los Angeles including New York (Dyckman), Baltimore (Brunson League), Atlanta (Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League), Miami (Miami Pro League) and Philadelphia (Rumph Classic). That tournament will run from July 24-26.
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Harden Named ‘Top Tier: Max Guy’
The Athletic’s John Hollinger named Harden as his “top free-agent shooting guard” for 2022. There were 33 players on the list divided into tiers.
Hollinger wrote the following snippet about Harden’s impending free agency: “He might be tempted to just opt-in for this season and try again for a big payday next summer when there are far more potential teams as landing sites. Alternatively, signing a longer deal at less than max money would go a long way toward smoothing out Philly’s luxury tax concerns.”
PJF Performance Working with Sixers Star
Harden has been working with long-time performance coach Paul Fabritz of PJF Performance this summer. Harden and Fabritz have trained together since 2017 and their hard work helped the 10-time All-Star earn MVP honors in 2018.
Coincidentally, Fabritz has also forged a relationship with Sixers star Joel Embiid over the years. PJP Performance’s mission statement says they are “dedicated to helping athletes worldwide reach their genetic potential.” Videos have already emerged featuring a “slim and trim” version of Harden in various workouts.