James Harden opts in as 76ers explore trades

According to multiple reports, James Harden has exercised his $35.6 million contract option for the next season with the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the franchise is reportedly exploring potential trades involving the veteran scorer. Harden informed the 76ers of his decision ahead of the deadline, expressing a desire to compete for a championship either in Philadelphia or with another contender. The LA Clippers and New York Knicks are among the teams expected to show interest in acquiring Harden, as per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harden’s return to the 76ers was advocated for by their coach, Nick Nurse, as well as teammate Tobias Harris. However, it seems that playing as the second option behind NBA MVP Joel Embiid and pursuing a championship in Philadelphia is no longer a possibility.

If a trade involving Harden were to take place, it would be his third trade since he requested to leave the Houston Rockets in February 2021. While there was reported interest from Harden in reuniting with the Rockets, the team’s focus is on pursuing Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet.

Also read: Draymond Green set to Decline Player Option, Entering Free Agency instead of Re-signing with Warriors

During his time with the 76ers, Harden led the NBA in assists last season but faced criticism for his inconsistent offense, which contributed to the team’s defeat in the Eastern Conference second-round against the Boston Celtics.

The 76ers, who have limited salary cap space, will now aim to acquire assets in a potential trade involving Harden. If a trade occurs, Harden would play under his 2023-24 contract and become eligible for free agency in the following season.

Harden, a 10-time All-Star, has previously forced trades out of both the Houston Rockets and the Brooklyn Nets. He declined his player option with the 76ers for the previous season but agreed to a two-year deal, opting for the player option for the upcoming season. Despite his accomplishments, including being a member of the league’s 75th anniversary team, Harden is yet to win an NBA championship in his career.

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