It was recently reported that James Harden will be taking a $15 million pay cut for 2022-23 in order to help the Philadelphia 76ers’ pursuit of a championship. After Harden opted out out of over $47 million, the new deal will reportedly pay Harden around $32 million in the first season and then have a player option on Year 2.
However, the deal with the Sixers isn’t done just yet. Both sides continue to work through negotiations to iron out all the details. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes delivered an update on the situation Saturday from Sixers president Daryl Morey:
Daryl Morey tells @YahooSports, @NBATV that negotiations with James Harden is “still in progress” and in a “good place.” Talks are a collaborating effort of Harden, Morey, Harden’s business partner Lorenzo McCloud and Michael Rubin. Both sides optimistic a deal will be done soon.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 9, 2022
It doesn’t seem as if there’s anything to worry about here, though it’s at least semi-interesting that it’s taking this long to hammer out the new contract. Given Harden is taking a pay cut, there may be some haggling going on.
It’s also at least a little interesting that Michael Rubin was named in these negotiations. Rubin was recently forced to sell his minority stake in the Sixers because of a conflict of interest as the CEO of Fanatics, which is planning to get into sports betting. Despite this, Rubin is apparently playing a key role in James Harden’s deal. They are close friends, but this is still an eyebrow-raising detail of these talks.
As for the Sixers’ other work in free agency, they officially signed P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr. a few days ago. Without trades, Harden taking less money was necessary for these signings to be at the numbers they’re at. Tucker was signed using the mid-level exception, while House was signed using the bi-annual exception. Philly can’t go over a hard cap of about $157 million because of these deals, so Harden is taking less to stay under that and give some wiggle room for flexibility. The Sixers’ payroll before the Harden deal is currently at about $120.5 million.
We’re just going to have to see what exactly the final number of this James Harden contract is.