James Harden

Sixers Notes: Tucker, Harden, Petrusev, Embiid

The Sixers’ major free agent acquisition this summer, veteran forward P.J. Tucker, had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee, according to a team press release. He’s already been cleared for on-court work and will participate in the team’s training camp in Charleston, South Carolina.

The procedure took just 10 minutes, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Tucker clarified on Monday that the procedure was done six weeks ago, adding that he’s “back on the court and doing everything,” Derek Bodner of The Daily Six newsletter tweets.

We have more on the Sixers as they begin training camp:

  • Tucker said that he and James Harden were hoping to land Philadelphia sooner, Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice tweets. “Honestly, me and James were trying to come the year before,” Tucker said, presumably referring when both players suited up for the Rockets after Daryl Morey became Philly’s top executive. Harden was instead dealt to Brooklyn before he wound up with the Sixers last year with Ben Simmons landing with the Nets.
  • Draft-and-stash big man Filip Petrusev will spend at least another year in Europe, playing in his native Serbia after signing with Crvena Zvezda, as previously reported. According to Eurohoops.net, Petrusev is on board with the “plan” the Sixers have for him. “They supported it,” the No. 50 pick of the 2021 draft said in an interview with Mozzart Sport. “The EuroLeague is the highest level of competition in Europe and that’s where I’ll definitely develop the most.”
  • Joel Embiid said the team’s main goal this regular season is becoming a defensive force, Neubeck writes. “Our focus is on defense,” Embiid said. “We aim to be the best defensive team in the league, that’s going to take all of us.”
  • Harden says he’s happier and healthier after dealing with a nagging hamstring injury last offseason, Neubeck adds. “Mentally, it was very, very difficult to me, just because I was in love with the game of basketball. … It was very difficult, a lot of tough times, dark moments, which I’ve never really went through because I was always healthy and playing the game of basketball. But I’m in a really good space right now, and I feel like I’m back to where I needed to be, where I’m supposed to be.”

Stephen Silas Discusses Unexpected Challenges With Rockets

Stephen Silas didn’t know he was walking into a rebuilding situation when the Rockets hired him as their head coach prior to the 2020/21 season. Silas was taking over a team that had two perennial All-Stars in James Harden and Russell Westbrook and was coming off a long string of playoff appearances.

Both players recommended Silas for the job, but they both issued trade requests before the start of training camp, with Westbrook being shipped to Washington during the preseason and Harden forcing his way to Brooklyn after eight regular season games. Silas discusses that sudden transition, and all the challenges that followed, in an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“You’re trying to just tackle each situation as it came, whether it was the (Harden) stuff that you read in the paper or online and then having to answer questions about it, or the Russ stuff,” Silas said. “All those things weren’t exactly the things that I thought I was going to be talking about in my first few days as a head coach, and my first few days of training camp having to answer all those questions. But the task is there, and you just kind of do it. It’s hard to say that it was especially hard because I think it’s always going to be hard (laughs). But a task comes, there’s a mountain to climb, so you climb it. There’s a big wave coming in; you move out of the way.”

Silas also credited the Rockets’ ownership and general manager Rafael Stone for supporting him amid the turmoil.

“We were tested early, but my relationship with ownership, my relationship with management is good,” he added. “Through all of this kind of stuff that was going on, that was the thing that I was able to grasp onto and hold onto was knowing that they were in my corner because they selected me.”

Silas addressed several other topics during the interview:

On the progress of his young backcourt, Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.:

“I think Jalen Green’s growth and improvement encapsulates our season. Early in the season, he was really struggling. He was pressing, not doing what he was used to doing, which is scoring points easily. And it was hard for him. But he worked through it. We stuck with him. And he got better slowly but surely as the season went along and ended up where at the end of the season, he was playing great. Same thing with Kevin Porter Jr. He started the season off turning the ball over quite a bit, learning how to play the point guard position. I think he led the league in turnovers early in the season, but as the season went along, he started to understand.”

On the challenges faced by center Alperen Sengun as he adjusted to the NBA during his rookie season:

“He makes things happen when he has the ball in his hands, whether he’s in the low post, scoring or making passes in the high post, at the elbow, making plays for his teammates. He does a good job of helping his teammates play well. But part of that growth and part of that struggle at the beginning of the season is that nobody knew how to play with him, and he didn’t know how to play with our guys. So as the season went along, it became more natural for guys to know when those passes are coming, and for him to know that this is where you’re gonna most likely get the ball and this is where you can be effective.”

On what he likes about Jabari Smith, the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft:

“He is a two-way player and very much a difference-maker as far as his length and his defensive instincts and his rebounding and his grit. He’s a quiet kid, and he can fool you sometimes. When he gets on the court, he is intense and competitive and has an edge to him — which I love. So yeah, his shooting is very good, and that will be his thing offensively, as well as his ability to shot fake and drive the ball and get to the rim, use his length, his offensive rebounding and whatnot. But it’s not very often when you have a high, high pick where you can say ‘Wow, he’s really good on both ends.’ And you can see it, where he could be a difference-maker on both ends of the floor.”

On his relationship with Harden and Westbrook, considering the circumstances of their departure:

“All three people who you mentioned (including former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey) had a big part in me being here and being a head coach in the NBA. So when I see them, there’s definitely no ill will. I’ve been around the NBA my whole life, so I understand the business part of it and everything that goes into that. But yeah, I’m good. I’m good with those guys, and I appreciate them for putting their stamp on my head coaching career.”

Atlantic Notes: J. Jackson, Barrett, Harden, Harrell, Sixers

Josh Jackson‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Raptors is non-guaranteed for now, but would become fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before October 17, the day before the regular season tips off, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Jackson is one of several Raptors players who has a significant financial incentive to make the team’s opening night roster. Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie, and D.J. Wilson would also receive full guarantees if they’re still under contract at that point.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • RJ Barrett‘s four-year contract extension with the Knicks includes exactly $107MM in guaranteed money and $13MM in total incentives, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Like Barrett’s base salaries, his annual incentives increase by 8% a year, starting at $2,901,790 in 2023/24 and rising to $3,598,209 by ’26/27. Barrett’s starting base salary in year one of the extension is $23,883,929 — that figure will increase to $29,616,071 by ’26/27.
  • Sixers star James Harden played a major role in recruiting his former Rockets teammate Montrezl Harrell to Philadelphia, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As Wojnarowski observes, Harden’s pay cut also created room under the hard cap for the 76ers to fit in Harrell’s minimum-salary contract.
  • In his latest mailbag, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com explores the possibility of the Sixers making a trade with the Jazz, evaluates De’Anthony Melton‘s potential role, considers how Philadelphia matches up with the new-look Cavs, and discusses several other 76ers-related topics.

Contract Details: Muscala, Harden, Blazers, More

The new contract that veteran forward/center Mike Muscala signed with the Thunder is essentially identical to the one he signed with the team in 2021, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Muscala’s new deal covers two years and has matching $3.5MM cap hits in each of those two seasons for a total of $7MM. The first year is guaranteed, while the second year is a team option. All of those details also applied to the two-year, $7MM contract he signed in ’21.

The Thunder chose to decline Muscala’s $3.5MM team option for 2022/23 back in June, but will now pay him that exact salary next season, with another $3.5MM team option for ’23/24. Since Oklahoma City had Muscala’s Bird rights, the club didn’t have to dip into its mid-level exception to complete the signing.

Here are a few more details on recently signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • James Harden‘s new two-year contract with the Sixers will pay him exactly $33MM in 2022/23 and includes a 2023/24 player option worth $35.64MM. The two-year, $68.64MM pact includes a 15% trade kicker.
  • The training camp contracts that Norvel Pelle and Isaiah Miller signed with the Trail Blazers include Exhibit 10 language. That gives Portland the option of converting either contract into a two-way deal before the regular season begins.
  • The new two-way contracts signed by Duane Washington (Suns) and Trent Forrest (Hawks) are each just for one season.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Harden, Rivers, Simmons, Raptors, C’s

The NBA is not only investigating whether the Sixers violated tampering rules prior to free agency but also whether they have a handshake agreement with James Harden after the star guard declined his $47.4MM option and took a pay cut, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps in an appearance on NBA Today (video link).

Harden signed a two-year deal for $68.6MM that includes a player option. The league is concerned whether the Sixers front office, led by president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, already has another agreement in place with Harden regarding a future contract.

The league “could potentially levy a really big penalty” against the Sixers if that occurred, Bontemps said.

On the same show, a clip from The VC (Vince Carter) Show was broadcast in which 76ers coach Doc Rivers denied that the Sixers knew Harden would opt out and re-sign: “I guarantee you that Daryl had no idea what James was going to do.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rivers also spoke about the Ben Simmons situation, saying that Simmons essentially overreacted to issues he had in Philadelphia (video link). “What frustrated me was that I still think (his issues) shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave,” Rivers said. “I told Ben that and I kept telling him that. That’s not why you want to leave a team. You work these things out and they didn’t get worked out.”
  • Raptors stars Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam could sign lucrative extensions this offseason but will likely to decide to wait, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic explains. VanVleet could sign a four-year contract extension worth approximately $114MM right now but might get more money down the road if he waits and remains productive. Beginning in October, Siakam could sign a three-year extension in excess of $125MM. However, Siakam — who has two years left on his current deal — could also get more by putting extension talks on the backburner.
  • The Celtics are hiring Craig Luschenat as a player development coach, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Luschenat has been on the staff of the team’s G League affiliate in Maine.

NBA Investigating Sixers’ Free Agency Moves For Tampering

The NBA is investigating the Sixers‘ free agency moves for possible tampering and “early contact,” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski details, James Harden declined his $47.4MM player option and instead took a pay cut by signing a two-year, $68.6MM deal with a second year player option. That gave the Sixers the flexibility to use their full mid-level exception to sign P.J. Tucker and their bi-annual exception to sign Danuel House — two of Harden’s former teammates with the Rockets under president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who is now with Philadelphia.

Marc Stein first reported that the Sixers were likely to face a tampering investigation, and he was also one of the first reporters to link Tucker to Philadelphia, with rival teams reportedly convinced that Tucker was signing a three-year deal for the mid-level multiple days before free agency officially opened.

Some around the league have wondered whether the Sixers and Harden already have a future deal in place, which is against the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Wojnarowski notes. Such a handshake agreement would involve declining his player option in 2023 and signing a lucrative new contract at that time.

The Sixers are complying with the investigation, Wojnarowski adds. The Knicks are also likely to face a tampering investigation due to an early free agency agreement with guard Jalen Brunson, as Fred Katz of The Athletic wrote last week.

The Heat (Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade last summer) and Bucks (Bogdan Bogdanovic deal that fell through in 2020) both lost their 2022 second-round picks as a result of previous tampering investigations, and the Bulls will lose their 2023 second-rounder for their early sign-and-trade agreement for Lonzo Ball in 2021.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Morey, Melton, Queen, Joe

With James Harden‘s new contract complete, the Sixers will be able to get a long-term look at what he can do for the organization. Harden played just 21 regular season games after being acquired from Brooklyn at the trade deadline, and there were concerns about his conditioning during that time. He dealt with a hamstring injury that affected his workout schedule last summer, but now he has the benefit of a full, healthy offseason and some familiarity with his teammates heading into training camp.

President of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who was determined to reacquire Harden after having him in Houston, expressed his delight about the new deal in a press release distributed by the Sixers.

“He is one of the best scorers and passers to ever play, and his knowledge of the game allows him to dissect defenses and make everyone around him better,” Morey said. “James’ commitment to winning continues to resonate throughout our organization, and I believe we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible in his partnership with Joel (Embiid) and this talented roster. This is an exciting time for our franchise.”  

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice sets some goals for Harden for the upcoming season, which include helping the Sixers build a top-eight offense, playing at least 70 games, and leading the NBA in assists. Neubeck notes that Harden was second in assists last season and should benefit from the additional shooting provided by P.J. Tucker and Danuel House.
  • De’Anthony Melton, who was acquired from the Grizzlies in a draft-night trade, could be a major bargain, Neubeck adds in a mailbag column. Melton’s ability to guard multiple types of players and his versatility on offense make it easy to fit him into numerous lineups. Neubeck notes that Melton was extremely effective in Memphis when he was paired with another ball-handler, and he figures to see a lot of minutes beside both Harden and Tyrese Maxey.
  • Isaiah Joe and Trevelin Queen are likely to battle for the final roster spot in training camp, Neubeck adds. Queen holds a $330K guarantee for the upcoming season, along with a non-guaranteed deal for 2023/24. Joe will have a fully guaranteed $1.78MM salary if he remains on the roster through October 23.

James Harden Re-Signs With Sixers On Two-Year Deal

JULY 27: Harden’s new contract is official, the Sixers announced on Twitter.

“This is where I want to be. This is where I want to win, and I think we have the pieces to accomplish that goal,” he said in a statement. “From my first day with the 76ers organization, the team and the fans have helped me feel at home here in Philadelphia. I’m excited to build off of last season and I can’t wait to get out on the court with the guys and start this journey.”  


JULY 20: James Harden is re-signing with the Sixers on a two-year, $68.6MM deal that includes a player option in year two, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that Harden will earn $33MM in 2022/23 and the player option is worth $35.6MM for ’23/24. The former league MVP will have the opportunity to enter free agency again next summer and possibly negotiate another contract.

It was viewed as inevitable that Harden would re-sign with Philadelphia, it was only a matter of when, not if. By agreeing to a one-plus-one contract structure, it will also give him veto power on any trade during the ’22/23 league year.

According to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link), with Harden on board at $33MM, the Sixers are approximately $3.4MM below the tax apron for ’22/23. The 76ers incurred a hard cap when they signed P.J. Tucker to the full mid-level exception and Danuel House to the bi-annual exception, so they cannot exceed the $156,983,000 tax apron at any point during the league year.

Both players were signed due to the flexibility Harden gave Philadelphia when he agreed to a pay cut — he previously declined his $47.4MM player option to sign a new deal. Harden recently explained the reasoning behind his decision to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“I had conversations with (president of basketball operations) Daryl (Morey), and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over,” Harden said. “This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That’s all that matters to me at this stage. I’m willing to take less to put us in position to accomplish that.”

Harden, who turns 33 next month, had a down season by his lofty standards, appearing in 65 regular season games (37.2 MPG) with averages of 22.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 10.3 APG and 1.3 SPG on .410/.333/.877 shooting. Those averages dipped to 18.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 8.6 APG on .405/.368/.893 shooting in 12 postseason games (39.9 MPG) with the Sixers last season.

He was reportedly hampered by a hamstring injury for much of the season, the same issue that plagued him in the playoffs last year with Brooklyn. Harden famously requested a trade from the Nets ahead of the deadline in February in a deal that sent Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and other assets to Brooklyn.

When Harden officially signs his new deal, Philadelphia will have 12 players on the 15-man roster signed to guaranteed deals, as shown by our roster count. He was ranked No. 3 on our list of the top 50 free agents this summer.

Eastern Notes: Bridges, Oladipo, Pistons, Harden

Hornets forward Miles Bridges entered a plea of not guilty to three felony domestic violence charges during his arraignment in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Bridges’ next court appointment is on August 19, according to Holmes, who says a date for a preliminary hearing is set to be scheduled at that time. The L.A. District Attorney’s office has indicated that Bridges could face a maximum sentence of 11 years and eight months in prison if he’s convicted of the three domestic abuse charges he faces, tweets Steve Reed of The Associated Press.

The NBA will wait for the legal process to play out before determining whether to levy any penalties of its own against Bridges. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the league wouldn’t have the ability to suspend Bridges if he’s found not guilty. However, a suspension is possible if he’s found guilty, he reaches a plea deal, or the charges are dropped.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat haven’t made any major outside additions to their roster this offseason, but if Victor Oladipo rounds back into form, that could represent a significant upgrade for the team in lieu of a trade acquisition or free agent signing, says Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Oladipo has played just 12 games for Miami since arriving at the 2021 deadline, but should be healthier in 2022/23 than he has been at any point since originally injuring his quad tendon in early 2020.
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com takes a look at the Pistons‘ projected starting five, suggesting that Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey are locks to be part of that group and will likely be joined by Isaiah Stewart and Jaden Ivey. Several players could be in the mix for the fifth starting spot, according to Langlois, who views Isaiah Livers as the slight favorite over Marvin Bagley III, Alec Burks, and others.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores the new agreement between James Harden and the Sixers, wondering if the two sides have a wink-wink agreement to complete a lucrative long-term deal next summer or if Philadelphia is hedging its bets by not making a long-term commitment to Harden at this point.

And-Ones: Brazdeikis, Hall, Harden, Johnson, Lofton Jr.

After finishing the 2021/22 season in Orlando, Ignas Brazdeikis remains on the free agent market and he’s drawing interest from two EuroLeague teams, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com.

Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zalgiris Kaunas are the teams pursuing Brazdeikis, though he’d prefer to stay in the NBA. Both Zalgiris and Baskonia are desperately looking for a perimeter player, according to Urbonas. Baskonia is trying to replace Simone Fontecchio, who is signing a two-year deal with the Jazz. Brazdeikis appeared in 42 games with the Magic last season.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Donta Hall has signed a three-year extension with AS Monaco, the team announced in a press release. Hall’s last NBA action came during the 2020/21 campaign, when he played 13 games with Orlando.
  • James Harden is a bargain? If he takes a pay cut and signs a two-year contract worth approximately $68MM with the Sixers, he’d rank as the best free agent value this offseason, Keith Smith writes in a Spotrac article. Keldon Johnson‘s four-year, $80MM extension with the Spurs and Kevon Looney‘s three-year, $25.5MM deal with the Warriors are also among the summer’s most team-friendly deals, in Smith’s estimation.
  • There were some eye-popping performances and some clunkers in the final Summer League games played over the weekend. Ethan Fuller of Basketball News takes a look at the “Studs,” including Kenneth Lofton Jr.’s 27-point, 12-rebound performance for the Grizzlies, and “Duds” from those contests.