James Harden’s new two-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers became official on Wednesday, and the former NBA MVP is ready to get to work.
“This is where I want to be. This is where I want to win, and I think we have the pieces to accomplish that goal,” Harden said of the Sixers in a statement. “From my first day with the 76ers organization, the team and the fans have helped me feel at home here in Philadelphia. I’m excited to build off of last season and I can’t wait to get out on the court with the guys and start this journey.”
Harden’s deal is for two years and $68 million and includes a player option for the second season. Harden, who declined a $47 million player option earlier this offseason, took a substantial pay cut for the upcoming season in order to help the Sixers build out the rest of the roster. The Sixers used that additional cap space to sign P.J. Tucker and Danuel House (both Harden’s former teammates in Houston), along with Trevelin Queen. Harden previously pointed to his overwhelming desire to win as the reason that he left money on the table.
“I had conversations with [Sixers president of basketball operations] Daryl [Morey], and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players,” Harden said earlier this month. “I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over. This is how bad I want to win. 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 position to accomplish that.”
Harden is happy to be continuing his career with the Sixers, and that feeling is mutual.
“I couldn’t be happier with James’ decision to commit to our organization,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said of Harden’s new deal. “Over the last two years we have taken major steps toward our ultimate goal of becoming champions. James shares our drive to win a title, and he believes being a 76er gives him the best opportunity to do that. Together, we will work tirelessly to achieve our goal.”
While Harden is clearly committed to Philadelphia, that commitment isn’t necessarily an extended one, as he will have the opportunity to hit unrestricted free agency again next summer if things go south for the Sixers. Obviously the organization is hoping that won’t be the case, and is instead hoping that a revamped roster and a healthy Harden will be enough to get them out of the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. Anything short of that will be labeled as an unsuccessful season.