It took a few years for James Harden to become amenable to a smaller contract, and at $33 million this upcoming year and $36 million with a player option the following season, he’s still way overpaid. The 76er guard opted out only to re-sign with Philly in the hopes that, I don’t know, he’s able to reverse whatever hex has been dogging the team since they adopted The Process.
True to his interview with Chris Haynes, the soon-to-be 14-year guard took a team-friendly contract.
He probably could’ve found some sucker team to give him an irresponsible contract, but it wasn’t coming from Daryl Morey.
Had Harden opted into the last year of his previous deal, he would’ve made $15 million more than what he’s going to receive for the 2022-23 season. So, technically this is good for the Sixers. That said, if he goes vegan or plant-based and is able to bump up his numbers back to a level that arouses GMs, he could opt out again in an effort to actually get one last bag.
My Deadspin colleague, D.J. Dunson, hypothesized that Harden could try something similar to what Chris Paul did in Phoenix, and, well, he was right.
After a tough spell in Houston, Paul’s prospects for a final big payday were diminished by the NBA’s “over-36 rule,” which prevented teams without Bird Rights from offering a four-year contract to players who will turn 36 years old during the course of their contract. As NBPA president, Paul negotiated for that rule to be adjusted to the “over-38” rule, which allowed Paul to sign a four-year extension in the 2018 offseason.
Harden is looking for a similar financial parachute from somebody when he’s 34, but that deal couldn’t be justified this offseason.
The thing about trying to go that route is CP3 doubled down on his already staunch determination. For as durable as Harden has been over the course of his career, eventually, he’ll need to adjust the balance between whatever it is he does in his free time and body upkeep.
I understand that this deal allowed Philly to plug holes created by the Harden trade, and congrats, I guess. P.J. Tucker is 37, and Danuel House and De’Anthony Melton are… Danuel House and De’Anthony Melton.
While Harden’s fancy financial footwork may have set him up for one more score, he’ll still be earning right around that same amount as Joel Embiid next year. Yes, Embiid is probably underpaid. Don’t tell that to fans, though. They never look at contracts objectively. If a player is getting paid as much as the team’s superstar, the expectations will follow.
Time and again over the past few years this organization has appeared ready to contend for a title — and it happened again last season when the Beard arrived. Harden taking a “pay cut” doesn’t feel like that. It feels like an aging, unengaged couple finally deciding to settle for each other because they got sick of the mirror reminding them about mortality every morning.
The fiasco that has unfolded in Los Angeles since the team’s bubble title has been a proverbial spring of content. While the “Big Three” renewed its vows, the front office was exploring a few potential trades over frozen margaritas and peyote.
Their latest target: Buddy Hield.
So a year after passing on a deal that could have landed Hield at a reasonable-to-cheap price, the cost has gone up because they traded all their assets and leverage for the Russell Westbrook Experience.
Adding shooting would be a massive help to the Lakers, but the onslaught of “I told you so” tweets would be even more helpful for me.