A SIXERS-FRIENDLY HARDEN DEAL WILL PAY DIVIDENDS NEXT JUNE!

By Tommy Matthews

Free agent James Harden met with Sixers bigs yesterday in the Hamptons after he declined his $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season.

The goal is a team-friendly deal that gives the Sixers the financial flexibility to improve by signing lower-cost free agents.

Harden, 32, would be eligible for a max contract worth more than $50 million per season if he inked a five-year deal, but a two- or three-year contract is likely.

Harden averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds in 21 starts with the 76ers this season after arriving in a trade-deadline deal that shipped Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets.

A three-time NBA scoring champion and the 2017-18 league MVP, Harden owns career averages of 24.9 points, 6.8 assists and 5.6 boards in 942 games (728 starts) for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Nets and Sixers.

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