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Sixers’ James Harden explains why he accepted a $15 million pay cut in NBA free agency

Posted on July 19, 2022

Sixers star James Harden took a $15 million pay cut during NBA free agency this summer. During an interview with Yahoo! Sports reporter Chris Haynes, he explained the logic behind that decision.

While Harden is still negotiating details of his two-year deal, which is expected to have a player option in the second year, he said he spoke with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey at the end of the season about how the team could improve its roster.

“I had conversations with Daryl, and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “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.”

With Harden opting out of his $47.36 million player option for the 2022-23 season, the Sixers had an opportunity to sign defensive specialist P.J. Tucker for three years at $33 million and add rotation player Danuel House for $8.5 million over two years.

They also signed Trevelin Queen, who won the 2021-22 G League MVP. They also picked up combo guard De’Anthony Melton in a trade that sent the 23rd overall draft pick, David Roddy, along with veteran Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies.

“I think we have a much deeper team,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “That’s something we wanted to address. If you look at our team now, we’re positioned to go a lot further. I like how we stack up with the rest of the top teams.”

The Sixers have a $123,655,000 salary cap for the 2022-23 season. Not including Harden’s deal, they are paying $121,573,652 in total team salary in the upcoming season, leaving room for a potential deal that pays $2,081,348.

Morey could trade Matisse Thybulle, who has been included in rumors since last season. Thybulle is guaranteed $4,379,527 this season and could be used to clear cap space.