James Harden turns down millions to help build 76ers' roster

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - NBA star James Harden is headed back to Philadelphia after he opted out of a $47.4 million contract for the 2022-23 season.

NBA MVP James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers.
NBA MVP James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers.  © Michael Reaves / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

When it comes to former MVP James Harden, the league's superstar isn't playing hardball in contract talks with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Instead, the athlete just wants whatever money is left over in hopes of building a championship-contending team with the 76ers.

Harden told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, "I had conversations with [team president] Daryl [Morey], and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over."

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"This is how bad I want to win," Harden said. "I want to compete for a championship. That's all that matters to me at this stage. I'm willing to take less to put us in [the] position to accomplish that."

With Harden opting out of a $47.4 million contract for the 2022-23 season, the franchise found the financial depth needed to build a championship team.

Philadelphia snagged veteran forward P.J. Tucker from the Miami Heat on a three-year, $33 million deal and agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with Harden’s former Houston teammate Danuel House.

Harden believes the new 76ers team will compete at a high level

James Harden (r) of the Philadelphia 76ers drives against Gary Trent Jr. of the Toronto Raptors during the Eastern Conference playoffs.
James Harden (r) of the Philadelphia 76ers drives against Gary Trent Jr. of the Toronto Raptors during the Eastern Conference playoffs.  © Tim Nwachukwu / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

In February, Harden was traded to the 76ers by the Brooklyn Nets alongside Joel Embiid. However, injuries to Embiid and limited effectiveness by Harden contributed to the Sixers' second-round exit in the 2022 playoffs.

"I think we have a much deeper team," Harden said. "That's something we wanted to address. If you look at our team now, we're positioned to go a lot further. I like how we stack up with the rest of the top teams."

Harden further pointed to his friendship with Embiid as a driving force for the 76ers.

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"I talk with Joel frequently and we have meetings about how we're going to play and what we need to do to help our team win a championship," Harden stated. "When you have two of the top players at their positions on the same team, that's a great building block. We're going to grow together and try to lead this team to the top. I believe we can do it together."

Harden has a Hall of Fame-worthy resume that includes an MVP award, three consecutive NBA Top Scoring titles, and 10 All-Star selections. However, he is still chasing an NBA championship title and has only reached the NBA Finals once with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

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

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