Should the Sixers bring back James Harden?
James Harden is barely a “free agent.” He has a player option for next season worth $47.4 million. If the Sixers don’t offer him an extension, then he will almost certainly pick up that option anyway. It’s a lot of money and there’s no realistic free agency destination for the 32-year-old former MVP.
The real question is, should the Sixers extend James Harden. It feels like the logical outcome based on Daryl Morey’s most recent press conference and the broader context around Harden’s arrival in Philadelphia. The Sixers didn’t give all that up to let Harden walk away. The Sixers made the investment, now it’s time to see it through.
That can be flawed logic, and there’s obvious reason for concern with respect to Harden’s next contract. The Sixers could end up paying over $50 million to Harden at age 36. That would be not ideal. On the flip side, Harden has said he’s willing to take less than the max if it helps the Sixers compete for a championship. If the Sixers can keep his yearly salary in the $30 million range instead of the $50 million range, it would be much easier to swallow.
In the end, yes, Philadelphia should bring back James Harden. There’s no one of his caliber imminently available in free agency and again, he’s just not leaving next season. He’s all but locked in. What happens beyond 2023 could be interesting, but Harden will be on the roster next season. And frankly, the Sixers should still embrace it — he’s really good. The playoffs were enlightening on some level, but Harden clearly made the Sixers a better team after his arrival. The Sixers can still compete for a title with him running point.
Final vote: YEA