James Harden Exercises Option, 76ers Explore Trade Opportunities

James Harden Exercises Option, 76ers Explore Trade Opportunities

Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden has made the decision to exercise his $35.6 million option for the 2023-24 season, according to sources from ESPN. This move has opened the door for the 76ers organization and the 10-time All-Star to collaborate on finding a suitable trade. The Sixers wasted no time and began reaching out to potential trade partners once it became evident that Harden would not decline his option and enter free agency.

Harden and the 76ers Seek a New Direction

Although Harden had the opportunity to negotiate a new contract with the Sixers as a free agent, he and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey agreed to focus on exploring trade possibilities. This decision comes less than two years after the guard’s arrival in a trade deal with the Brooklyn Nets in February 2022. The LA Clippers and New York Knicks are among the teams expected to express interest in acquiring Harden, sources have revealed.

76ers Face a Decision on Harden’s Future

While the Sixers are not obligated to trade Harden, it appears that his primary objective is to find a new team, marking his third move since departing from the Houston Rockets in February 2021. The Sixers had the option to offer Harden a lucrative four-year, $213 million contract in free agency, but it seemed unlikely that they would commit to such a substantial financial commitment.

Harden had expressed an interest in reuniting with the Rockets, who currently possess an impressive $64 million in salary cap space. However, sources suggest that the Rockets’ focus has shifted towards pursuing Toronto Raptors free agent Fred VanVleet. Harden remains optimistic about joining a competitive team through a trade arrangement.

Discussion on Harden’s Decision Begins

While formal talks regarding a free agent deal cannot commence until 6 p.m. ET on Friday, the involved parties were permitted to engage in conversations regarding Harden’s decision on his $35.6 million player option, which was due on Thursday. Last year, Harden left a substantial amount of money, approximately $15 million, on the table when he signed his current two-year, $68 million contract, including a player option. This flexibility enabled the Sixers to secure the services of free agents P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr.

During his time with the Sixers, Harden had an exceptional season, showcasing his All-Star-level skills by averaging 21 points and a league-leading 10.7 assists. Unfortunately, Philadelphia faced a disappointing defeat to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Sixers acquired Harden after he expressed his desire to join the team. Harden and Morey share a long history, having spent nine seasons together with the Rockets. Now, as Harden explores his options, the 76ers organization is prepared to navigate the uncertain path ahead.

Sports

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