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What Does the Early Playoff Exit for the 76ers Mean for James Harden’s Possible Free Agency

We ran the offense, the ball moved and you know it just didn’t get back to me.

The Sixers have been defeated by the Miami Heat. In game 6, James Harden only scored 11 points in 43 minutes of basketball in an elimination game. This is nowhere near the first time when Harden has disappointed in the playoffs, in a decisive game. The only question is: will it impact where he signs and the money he gets? This is likely the last big contract the all-star caliber guard will receive at 32 alongside his strengths as a player not aging well. 

James Harden when asked what happened in the second half of game 6

Harden only shot the ball twice in the second half of the elimination game. There should be no reason your superstar guard in an elimination game only shoots twice in the second half of an elimination game. That left a sore taste in Harden’s mouth, as we all know he would have loved to have the ball more. As he stated in that quote, he believes the ball did not get back to him in the offense once he distributed it.

Harden has had multiple chances to extend his contract, with the Rockets offering him a max extension before being forced to trade him, and the Nets offering a three-year extension worth around $161 million. Many teams will probably offer James Harden a massive contract in free agency if he declines his $47 million dollar option to become a free agent.

What Does it Mean if James Harden Declines His Player Option

If James Harden leaves the Sixers this off season for nothing, it will have a really negative impact on the Sixers front office and roster. As they gave up Ben Simmons, a former first overall selection, their 2022 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick.

This does not mean he would leave. It is possible he would just want to get paid in free agency. The Sixers will likely offer him the money he wants as they can not envision losing Harden for nothing, on top of that the Sixers would likely have a very hard time replacing such a talented player. To do so, they would likely need to trade one of or multiple of their young core of talented players on top of picks to acquire another star player to pair with Joel Embiid.

With all of this, if James Harden were to decline his option, then decide he wants to go to a new pasture, it would be horrible for the Sixers, obviously. That does not seem to be in the cards, though, as he has not shown any signs of frustration with the Sixers

When asked if he has a future in Philadelphia, Harden brushed the question off, not confirming anything. Harden was clearly not going to answer this question to the media in any way due to the possibility his words could get turned into something he did not want them to come off as.

James will need to finalize his player option before June 29th next month. This means Philly fans will not have to wait long to find out if he is returning on a one year deal, or possibly getting a max contract from the Sixers in free agency, and if he desires to leave.

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