James Harden agrees to a 2-year, $68 million deal to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers

James Harden has agreed to terms of a two-year deal to stay with the Philadelphia 76ers and will make about $14.5 million less next season than he could have made under his previous deal, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Wednesday.

Harden will sign a deal for just over $68 million, paying him about $33 million in 2022-23 with a $35 million player option for 2023-24, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

ESPN first reported that the deal between the 76ers and the 10-time All-Star point guard was being finalized.

Harden had a $47.4 million option for next season that he turned down last month, saying he wanted to give the 76ers flexibility to improve their roster and compete for a championship. Returning that kind of money — Harden basically gave himself a 30% pay cut for 2022-23 — allowed the 76ers to make moves like signing power forward PJ Tucker and forward Danuel House earlier this month.

“We landed some really good pieces this summer, so now is the time to do the hard work,” Harden said in an interview with the AP earlier this week to promote the upcoming launch of a new wine label bearing his name.

Harden’s plans have been clear since the season ended: He was committed to staying with the 76ers and helping them improve.

“I’ll be here,” Harden said on May 12, when the 76ers’ season ended with a playoff loss to the Miami Heat. “Yes, I will be here. Whatever makes this team, whatever allows this team to continue to grow and improve and do the things necessary to win and compete at the highest level.”

Harden is a three-time scoring champion and averaged 22 points and 10.3 assists last season with the Brooklyn Nets and 76ers. A seven-time All-NBA player, he was the 2018 Most Valuable Player and is a member of the league’s 75th anniversary team.

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