Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard James Harden has declined his player option for 2022-23, making him an unrestricted free agent. This shouldn’t scare 76ers fans as Harden intends to return to the team and is simply doing this to help create some cap room to allow the team to improve on the margins.
ESPN Sources: 76ers star James Harden has declined his $47.3M option and become a free agent. He keeps real the possibility of negotiating a new deal that would deliver the Sixers roster-building flexibility in free agency – including use of the full $10.5M exception.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2022
There are reports Harden will sign a shorter extension with some cap-friendly numbers in the first year to help the 76ers make other moves. Harden cut the timing of this decision dangerously close to the 5 p.m. ET deadline, similar to his gaffe when he was initially traded to Philadelphia from the Brooklyn Nets.
We’ll see if the Sixers are able to make big moves on the periphery and what kind of extension Harden lands as a free agent. It doesn’t appear he’s headed somewhere else, so there won’t be much buzz around him when the free agency period opens.