The Philadelphia 76ers could have some big decisions to make this upcoming offseason, most namely with how they approach James Harden’s next contract. Harden has a player option for next season, which he may or may not decline. If he does, the Sixers have decide if he’s worth keeping around for the next few years.
Sixers Insider Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice revealed on the February 16 episode of “Clap Your Hands” that Harden will opt out of his contract, and whether or not he stays in Philadelphia depends on if they are willing to offer him the max.
“The big story might be less about this season and more about that guy is opting out and asking for the full max and you either giving it to him or he’s leaving because he is worth that in this current form and I don’t think he’s taking less than that if I had to guess.,” Neubeck said.
This season, Harden is averaging 21.4 points, 10.8 assists, and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 45.1% from the field and 38.9% from three. Harden is also 33 years old, which could make it a tough decision to give him a max contract knowing he will only get older.
What will probably play a factor in what the Sixers decide to do with Harden is how they do in the postseason. They haven’t gotten past the second round since 2001 but getting over that hump because of Harden on board could make the Sixers feel good about keeping him long-term.
Harden Hires New Agent
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on February 14 that Harden has hired Troy Payne as his new agent and his first agent since 2017. Charania gave the full details of who will represent Harden going forward.
“Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden will be represented by Troy Payne, a former Adidas executive who is partnering with agents Mike Silverman and Brandon Grier to lead Equity Basketball. Payne, Silverman, and Grier are now the agents for Harden, who signed a two-year contract with the 76ers last offseason and has the ability to become an unrestricted free agent in July,” Charania said.
On FanDuel TV, Charania talked about the implications this move could have on Harden’s potential free agency this summer.
“This is an interesting development because James Harden has a player option for the summertime. He could be a free agent. He’s had a bounceback year this year,” Charania said. “James Harden is starting to make moves and maneuver for the offseason, for post-career.”
Former Assistant Coach Praises Harden
After the Sixers defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 15, J.B. Bickerstaff, who was an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets back when Harden played for them, praised his former player for his approach when playing for the Sixers.
“What James is understanding is how do I make this team better and how do I make it work with the current teammates that I have?” Bickerstaff said, per Ky Carlin of SixersWire. “Paying respect to big fella. How do I get him his touches? (Tyrese) Maxey, Tobias (Harris), how do I get all these guys? What James is doing is playing the position to help his team.”
Bicketstaff continued to praise Harden for his mindset when playing for the Sixers.
“I don’t think it’s anything where he has to take a step back or anything where he’s feeling a type of way,” Bickerstaff finished. “It’s how do I help this team win? And I think he’s accepting that approach.”