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#pounditMonday, September 26, 2022

James Harden’s new contract with 76ers has interesting element

James Harden dribbles

Feb 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) brings the ball up court against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden’s team-friendly new contract probably feels like Christmas for Philadelphia 76ers fans. But it turns out that Harden is at least getting some protection in the deal.

The official terms of Harden’s new contract were revealed this week. Harden is getting a two-year, $68.6 million deal from the 76ers with a player option in Year 2 (in other words, a 1+1 deal). That marks a significant pay cut from what Harden could have gotten just by picking up the $47.3 million player option he originally had for next year. But it will also allow Harden to become a free agent again next offseason to negotiate a new deal.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks pointed out something interesting about Harden’s new contract. He noted that Harden, since he has a player option for the second year, holds veto power over any trade next year. In other words, the 76ers will not be able to trade him without his permission if things go south.

1+1 contracts are usually given to cream-of-the-crop superstars with zero chance of ever being traded anyway (like LeBron James and Kevin Durant). Those deals are also usually for the max or close to it. Harden getting a 1+1 is notable because he is no longer a bona fide superstar at 32 years old and has already been traded twice in the last 18 months. Additionally, Harden, who is piling up both mileage and injuries, is also giving up some longer-term security and even taking a pay cut to do so. But on the bright side, Harden still gets the protection against a trade that a 1+1 provides.

In any case, the 76ers will probably never consider trading Harden since they have made a number of Harden-centric moves this summer. But if the team eventually wants to mount a run at the Kevin Durant’s and Donovan Mitchell’s of the world, Harden is effectively off the table as a trade chip.

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