James Harden’s new contract with the Philadelphia 76ers includes a player option for the 2023-24 season

The Philadelphia 76ers free agent star James Harden He is returning to the franchise on a new two-year, $68.6 million deal, including a player option for the 2023-24 season, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

The deal guarantees Harden $33 million next season and gives him the option to decline his $35.6 million player option and negotiate another free agent deal next summer, sources said.

Harden, who declined a $47.4 million player option for next season, gave the 76ers salary-cap flexibility with a salary cut for 2022-23 — allowing them to sign free agents. BJ Tucker And Danwell House Making use of neutral and biennial exemptions facilitates the ability to obtain D’Anthony Melton In a draft night trade with Memphis.

Harden — a 10-time All-Star and six-time first-team All-NBA guard — told Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey that he wants to do his part to strengthen the team’s roster and give it a better chance. To compete for a championship. Declining the $47.4 million player option will give the organization flexibility to make deals as this upcoming season progresses.

The franchise hopes Harden’s commitment to success will include a return to offseason training camp in better physical shape than when he played in both Brooklyn and Philadelphia last season.

Harden, who turns 33 next month, averaged 22 points and 10.3 assists in 65 games with the Nets and Sixers. Brooklyn traded him to Philly in February in what was part of a blockbuster deal Ben Simmons Connects to networks. For the fourth time in five years, the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

Harden spent just one year in Brooklyn after ending his successful eight-year run in Houston at the start of the 2020-21 season. Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving On the Nets for a remarkable collection of draft assets and players. After a second-round loss to the Milwaukee Bucks two years ago, Harden’s relationship with the Nets soured after Irving was unable to play in New York due to the city’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate.

In Philadelphia, Harden reunited with former Rockets general manager Morey, and they worked together to find a way to keep Harden in this new deal and improve the franchise’s roster this summer.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.

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