How the Philadelphia 76ers cope with James Harden’s impending free firm might resolve the franchise’s path for the following half-decade.

Ask members of the Philadelphia 76ers fan base how they actually really feel about James Harden correct now and the options will fluctuate from utter disgust to, successfully, utter disgust. Harden dropped an all-time Nothingburger inside the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday, scoring 9 components on 11 photos and committing 5 turnovers to counterpoint his seven assists.

Harden has a fairly rising monitor report of failing in elimination video video games, nevertheless it could very properly be argued that Sunday was his worst however. He was passive and totally uninspired, allowing the Boston safety to lock him out of the paint and totally disrupt his two-man actions with Joel Embiid.

Sad nevertheless true is the reality that Harden possibly wasn’t the worst on-court MVP winner for Philadelphia in Game 7. But with Embiid entrenched as a result of the Sixers’ centerpiece for larger or worse, the offseason onus for Philadelphia falls to James Harden.

Should the Philadelphia 76ers re-sign James Harden … and should they?

The Sixers have a lot of looming free brokers, nevertheless Harden is the precise giant free agent. It is broadly anticipated that he’ll select out of his current contract within the hunt for a remaining long-term deal sooner than he provides up on stardom. Harden, in the mean time 33, has already slowed down significantly since his most interesting days in Houston.

Philadelphia has the facility to produce Harden roughly $210 million over 4 or 5 years resulting from the rule of over 38 of the CBA. That generally is a main funding in an rising outdated star who almost positively won’t produce on the stage wished on the end of that contract. In fact, it’s getting extra sturdy to argue that Beard can produce on the stage wished presently.

It’s very important to take care of perspective on these factors, and the Sixers’ entrance office can’t afford to let emotions lead them in a single course or one different. Harden misplaced two 40-point video video games in opposition to Boston, and the Sixers have been up after three quarters of Game 6 at dwelling with a 3-2 sequence lead. A few rebounds go the alternative means, and Philly possibly wins the sequence. To say that the Sixers merely weren’t as a lot as Boston’s stage is factually incorrect. the sixers have been at Boston’s stage, making their Game 7 collapse way more bitter.

That collapse, in any case, is available in opposition to the backdrop of Philadelphia’s annual runoff parades by the Embiid interval. Multiple seasons have ended with Embiid usually in compromised properly being producing poor strains as his teammates reel in a winnable elimination sport. It occurred in opposition to the Hawks, it occurred in opposition to the Heat, it occurred a lot of events in opposition to the Celtics. The Sixers have misplaced inside the Eastern Conference semifinals 5 of the earlier six years. The Bubble 12 months is the one exception; Boston swept them inside the first spherical that 12 months.

What does that suggest for Harden? Ultimately, that may depend on how critically the Sixers take themselves as contenders. It may even depend on how Harden views Philly’s chances of competing. The smoke surrounding a doable Harden-Rockets reunion has been piling all season, and Philly’s early departure will solely fan the flames.

The Sixers can afford to spend $210 million on Harden, nevertheless that may make it virtually unattainable to comprehend necessary roster margin enchancment. The Sixers lack commerce and draft capital correct now and the new collective agreement it ought to make it robust for giant spending teams to develop the roster. Is holding on to what appears to be like like a shortly sinking anchor the perfect path forward?

On the alternative hand, Harden remained an All-NBA-caliber participant for lots of the widespread season. He led the NBA in assists and was invaluable to arguably the perfect offense inside the league. He made sacrifices to lift Embiid and even bought additional defensively than followers have been used to.

Letting Harden go would go away the Sixers with a serious void and no technique to fill it. The Sixers can solely punt less than $12 million in cap home if they provide up all of their wage cap withholdings; that can suggest letting not solely Harden stroll, however as well as Georges Niang, Jalen McDaniels, Shake Milton and Paul Reed. There’s no viable technique to substitute misplaced depth (to not level out Harden) with decrease than $12 million.

The Sixers are caught between a rock and a tricky place. Let Harden stroll and his hopes of competing anytime shortly are dashed. Keep him maxed out for the prolonged haul, and there may be nonetheless a great deal of function to doubt his functionality to compete; In addition, they need to pay $50 million to 38-year-old James Harden.

Philly ought to try to find a middle flooring with Harden. He took decrease than max ultimate season to help Daryl Morey improve the supporting cast. If Harden have been eager to take one different pay decrease, that can resolve some (if not all) of the financial points.

But the issue regarding the heart flooring is that every occasions have to hunt out it. The Sixers might make as many proposals to Harden as they want, however when the Rockets present Harden the utmost four-year complete worth $201 million, tax-free in Texas, whereas Philadelphia performs hardball, the Sixers’ odds of sustaining the sooner MVP deteriorate shortly. And that’s with out considering the Rockets’ functionality to spend elsewhere to most likely uncover one different co-star for Harden, nor considering the simple undeniable fact that Harden may select being in Houston than being in Philly altogether.

Harden is in the mean time the No. 1 Enemy inside the state of Pennsylvania, nevertheless he’s moreover totally central to the make-up of this Sixers workforce. Philadelphia has no chance of profitable with out him. The draw back is that it begins to look like they can’t win. with neither did he. No matter how good he is inside the widespread season, there’ll most likely be questions on Harden’s functionality to look inside the largest video video games until he really appears inside the largest video video games. And as soon as extra, time is ticking in his prime, or irrespective of stage of his career we’re in the mean time at. He won’t take many additional bites of the proverbial apple.

So if the Sixers can’t win with Harden, can’t win with out Harden, and there’s no technique to substitute Harden, what exactly can the doorway office do? In the highest, it ought to possibly require extreme faith inside the enchancment of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. No matter the place Harden decides to spend his subsequent 4 years, Philadelphia’s solely path to necessary enchancment is inside.