At one time, James Harden looked destined to opt out of his contract for the 2022-23 season and then re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers on a five-year, maximum deal. They are now likely to take a different path with regard to Harden and the Eagles.

Currently, the consensus is that Harden will pick up the player option in the 2022-23 season. Later, the Sixers will extend Harden’s deal by two or three years beyond the expiration of his current option year. A deal has been reached between the two sides.

According to reports, Philadelphia is hesitant to sign Harden to a long-term max contract. With the 76ers, Harden hopes to stay with the team rather than become a free agent in the future. Signing even a short-term extension is the center ground between the two options.

76ers and Harden to continue together

“Two weeks from the beginning of NBA free agency on June 30 at 6 p.m. ET, all signs point toward All-Star guard James Harden returning to the Philadelphia 76ers on a shorter-term contract extension, league sources told B/R.”

“Harden and Sixers leadership are aligned on one clear directive, sources said: The franchise’s best opportunity to compete for a championship starring Joel Embiid, as well as Harden’s optimal opportunity to earn his first NBA ring, resides with Harden playing in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.”

“Sixers ownership, though, has been resistant to the idea of giving Harden a full four-year maximum contract extension beyond his 2022-23 option season, sources told B/R, or the five-year deal that Harden would be eligible for if he chose to decline his $47.4 million player option for next season. Signing perhaps a two-year extension after his option season to create a new three-year framework would also provide Harden with greater optionality for his own career.”

Jack Fischer of Bleacher Report