James Harden agrees to two-year, $68.6-million deal to return to 76ers

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - James Harden has agreed to a two-year, $68.6-million deal to return to the 76ers, a league source confirmed.

NBA star James Harden will return to the Philadelphia 76ers with a two-year, $68.8-million contract.
NBA star James Harden will return to the Philadelphia 76ers with a two-year, $68.8-million contract.  © Tim Nwachukwu / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Harden will make $33 million during the 2022-23 season. The deal also includes a $35.6-million player option for 2023-24, allowing Harden to potentially enter free agency again next summer.

The agreement comes less than a month after Harden declined his $47.4-million player option for the coming season, which allowed the Sixers to bolster their depth and toughness during free agency by signing veteran forward P.J. Tucker with the full mid-level exception and forward Danuel House with the biannual exception. It was reported earlier this month that Harden would take about a $15 million pay cut for this season.

The Sixers acquired Harden, the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player and a 10-time All-Star, at the last season's trade deadline in a blockbuster deal that sent Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets.

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Harden averaged 21 points, 10.5 assists, and 7.1 rebounds in 21 regular-season games with the Sixers, becoming more of a facilitator and pick-and-roll partner with MVP runner-up Joel Embiid than the dominant scorer he was as a Houston Rocket.

Harden is in it for a conference championship

Harden, who turns 33 in August, said after the Sixers lost to the Miami Heat in the playoffs' second round that he would do "whatever it takes to help this team continue to grow and put us up there with the best of them."

The athlete reiterated that in a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, saying he told Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey "to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over."

The Sixers finished fourth in the East last season and are aiming to challenge the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks for the conference's top spot. This offseason, the Sixers also acquired defensive guard De'Anthony Melton in a draft-night trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and signed reigning G League MVP Trevelin Queen.

Cover photo: Tim Nwachukwu / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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