Should the Sixers pay James Harden $200 million in free agency?
As the Philadelphia 76ers prepare for what promises to be a very interesting offseason, the big focus is going to be on James Harden. While the Sixers still have to find a new coach to replace the fired Doc Rivers, the question of whether Harden returns or not is going to be the big focus.
Harden will likely opt out of his contract and enter free agency. There have been strong reports about him returning to the Houston Rockets as he has family and business ventures still in Houston. It would make sense for him to go back to the Rockets, but the Sixers can offer him the most money.
The big question is, should they do it?
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports that there is “an appetite” for Harden to get a 4-year $200 million deal in the offseason. This comes after he had a very productive season averaging 21 points, a league-leading 10.7 assists, and 6.1 rebounds while shooting a career-high 38.5% from deep.
He followed that up by averaging 20.3 points, 8.3 assists, and 6.2 rebounds in the postseason. He shot 39.3% from the floor and 37.8% from deep in the playoffs which, on paper, are very good numbers.
However, when putting it into context, he had some really rough games when it mattered most in the postseason.
In Game 6 of Round 2, with a chance to eliminate the Boston Celtics, Harden shot just 4-for-16 from the floor and 0-for-6 from deep in a loss at home. He followed that up by going 3-for-11 for nine points in the Game 7 loss. He also shot a combined 5-for-28 in the losses in Game 2 and Game 3 of that series.
This is not to put all of the blame on Harden. At all. There were plenty of other reasons why the Sixers lost that series to the Celtics. He did score 45 points in the Game 1 win on the road without Joel Embiid and then 42 points in the Game 4 win while also knocking down the go-ahead triple in both games to lead the Sixers to wins.
However, he gets a large amount of the blame due to the fact that he is a future Hall of Famer and he is going to be a free agent in the offseason. When considering how much of a see-saw his production was in Round 2 against Boston, it is so tough to really decide to give him $200 million this offseason.
Daryl Morey has said that he has backup plans in case The Beard does leave. It will be interesting to see how the Sixers handle this entire situation when the time comes. One has to assume that the Sixers want to bring him back after such a productive season, but when considering the up-and-down playoff performances and his age, it really is such a tough sell to justify giving him $200 million over four years.
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