Stephen A. Smith invites James Harden on to argue he deserves a supermax

The big question the Philadelphia 76ers must answer this offseason is whether James Harden deserves the supermax contract he is looking for.

He isn’t exactly the MVP caliber player he once was with the Houston Rockets. And after scoring only 11 points on nine shots in an elimination game against the Miami Heat, the answer to that question will ultimately dictate the verdict on Daryl Morey’s tenure in Philadelphia.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been adamant Harden doesn’t deserve a supermax contract at this point in his career. Patrick Beverley argued Harden should absolutely get that money. Smith then issued an invite to Harden to come on the show and make his own argument:

Let me say this because you guys are witnesses to this right now. This is live. This ain’t taped. Your comments ain’t edited out. This is live television we’ll be on. James Harden, why don’t you come on “First Take” bro. I’ll give you the whole two hours. I dare you to sit up in front of me right now. Right on this show live any day of the week and I love James Harden. I want you to sit up and tell me you deserve the max. There’s no way in hell he can make that argument. He hasn’t played like the James Harden we know. You had the 22, 10 and 7. Give him that. No doubt about it. The brother can still play. He’s a starter in this league. He’s an All-Star caliber player. We get all of that, but a contract that ultimately when you kick in next year’s $47 million and then you extend it 4-years and $275 million deal for James Harden when he’s get paid $60 million at the year at the age of 37. When we’ve already seen slippage. You must be out your damn mind. Here’s the bottom line, James Harden his lost a step. The separation he once gained against defenders no longer exists. We understand that. Playoff situations, which is where you really, really make your money, he’s come up short. … You going on Instagram talking about you just listening and you just soaking it all in like somehow you have been victimized by people telling the truth is just unfair. James Harden showed up in a close out game. He is fresh off of attempting two shots in the second half, and I’ve said this, Bev, put that brother in crutches on one leg and James Harden could get off more than two shots in a game. This is James Harden we talking about. How the hell does that happen?

It remains to be seen what the Sixers will do with Harden. But Philadelphia made that trade to win a title with him and Joel Embiid leading the way. It would be foolish to let him walk, but it will be interesting to see how this is all handled.

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