2022 NBA Free Agency: James Harden agreed to a two-year, $68.6 million contract with the 76ers.

After weeks of negotiations, All-Star guard James Harden has agreed to return Philadelphia 76ers In a two-year deal worth $68.6 million, According to Adrian Wojnarowski. Harden will have a player option for a second year.

Harden was traded to the Sixers before the deadline last season in a blockbuster deal that sent Ben Simmons. Brooklyn Nets, declined a $47.3 million option for next season in order to hit free agency. This new deal represents a significant discount on his annual salary of around $34 million.

While Harden will lose money in the short term, he will have to make up for it in the long run. He can opt out now and enter free agency next summer, when more teams have a cap hit, and he could earn up to $46.5 million a year. He also said that he took this decision to help the Sixers win.

“I had a conversation [team president] Daryl [Morey], and explained how we can do better and what the market value of certain players is. “I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who needs to be signed and give me the rest,” Harden said. said in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports. “I want to win like this. I want to compete for a championship. That’s all that matters to me at this point. I’m willing to take less to put us in a position to achieve that.”

The only major item missing from Harden’s resume is a championship. He has reached the conference finals four times in his career, twice Oklahoma City Thunder And twice with Houston Rockets. He did make it to the Finals once, though — in 2012 with the Thunder, when they faced LeBron James and The Miami Heat.

While Harden’s teams often lost to better opponents in those series, he also has a history of underperforming in big moments in the playoffs. The latest example was last season’s second-round loss to the Miami Heat in six games. With Joel Embiid out for the first two games and playing other ways through several serious injuries, the Sixers needed Harden to step up. Except in Game 4, he didn’t. He averaged 18.2 points on 40.5 percent shooting for the series and didn’t score in the fourth quarter in Game 5 or 6.

Thanks to Harden’s waiver, the Sixers were able to add PJ Tucker, Danuel House and G League MVP Trevelyn Quinn in free agency. They also traded for versatile guard D’Anthony Melton on draft night. With those additions and a healthy Embiid, the Sixers have a chance to compete Boston Celtics And Milwaukee Bucks At the top of the Eastern Conference.

But even with a great supporting cast, the Sixers’ fate ultimately depends on Harden. If he doesn’t excel, they won’t beat either of those teams or both in the playoffs. Harden, for his part, believes he can get there, and blamed last season’s disappointment on not being 100 percent and joining a new situation.

“I don’t really listen to what people say. I wasn’t great last season, and I still averaged almost a triple-double,” Harden said. “If somebody else had those numbers, we’d talk about them getting maxed out. People were used to seeing me average 40, 30 points, so they looked at it as a down year. I was in Philadelphia for two months. I had to learn on the fly. That’s it. I’m physical now. I’m in a good place mentally and physically and I’m looking forward to next season.”

With his contract situation finally resolved, he can now turn his full attention to the goal of bringing a title to Philadelphia.

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