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James Harden reportedly plans to sign a short-term extension with Sixers after picking up option

The Sixers guard has said he intends to pick up his $47.4 million player option for next season. Now signs point to him agreeing to a short-term deal to stay beyond the 2022-23 season.

Sixers guard James Harden.
Sixers guard James Harden.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

It appears that James Harden will get paid ... but at a discount for the 76ers.

The Sixers guard has said in the past that he intends to pick up his $47.4 million player option for next season. By picking it up, Harden will be eligible to sign a four-year, $233 million contract extension that would pay him $61.7 million in the 2026-27 season.

But Harden has always said he would be willing to do what’s best for the team.

Apparently, that’s exactly what he intends to do. According to Bleacher Report, Harden plans to sign a short-term extension after he opts in.

» READ MORE: Fair question for the Sixers: How much is James Harden worth in a contract extension?

Harden’s deadline to opt out of the final year of his contract is June 29. Once he opts into the final year of his deal, Harden can only sign a two-year extension with 5% annual raises until Aug. 10. After that date, he’ll be eligible to sign a four-year extension that would have a 5% salary increase in 2023-24. Then he’ll be eligible for 8% annual raises over the final three seasons.

The start of free agency will be at 6 p.m. on June 30. Harden’s contract could influence some of the Sixers’ other offseason moves.

Asked in May if he’s willing to take less money in an extension, Harden said he’s willing to do “whatever it takes to help this team continue to grow and put us up there with the best of them.”

Harden has not lived up to the high expectations attached to February’s blockbuster trade that brought him to Philly from the Brooklyn Nets. And the team has been hesitant to give him a four-year, $233 million extension.

Harden averaged 21.0 points per game in 21 regular-season games as a Sixer, marking his lowest scoring average since he produced 16.8 points per game as a third-year reserve guard with the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2011-12 season.

He shot 40.2% on field goals and 32.6% from three-point range, the worst percentages of his career.

» READ MORE: Sixers gauging trade interest in Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and others, sources say

The 13-year veteran averaged 19.0 points and 10.2 assists in the opening-round series against the Toronto Raptors. He averaged 18.1 points and 7.0 assists in the second round against the Miami Heat. Harden has mostly played a facilitator role as a Sixer.

“I’ll be here,” Harden said. “Whatever allows this team to continue to grow and get better and do the things necessary to win and compete at the highest level.”

The projected NBA salary cap for next season will be $122 million and the luxury tax level is $149 million. The Sixers will have more than $143.4 million tied up with 12 players, assuming Harden does pick up his player option. They’ll also take a cap hit of $2.5 million by keeping the No. 23 pick, pushing their salary to around $146.9 million.

The team won’t have a lot of wiggle room in adding a third star to play alongside Harden and Embiid.

If they do that via a sign-and-trade this summer or use their $4.1 million, biannual exception or the $10.3 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception, they can’t go over the $155.7 million luxury-tax apron next season.

But the Sixers can try to orchestrate their offseason plan now that there’s some clarity in regard to Harden’s contract.