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Report: James Harden declines player option to enter free agency

The Beard intends to return to Philly.

NBA: Miami Heat vs Philadelphia 76ers
James Harden of Philadelphia 76ers in action during NBA semifinals between Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States on May 12, 2022.
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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.

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.