Report: 76ers' Harden to decline option, return on contract to bolster roster

Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden, left, tries to get past Toronto Raptors' Pascal Siakam during the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP)

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden has reportedly declined his $47.3M option and will become a free agent, though intends to return, sources tell ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harden is reportedly open to negotiating a new deal that would allow the Sixers roster-building flexibility in free agency including use of the full $10.5M exception.

With many of Philadelphia's starters stretched to the maximum during the playoffs, and with star centre Joel Embiid missing time with injury, their lack of depth was exposed showing a need to bolster the roster in the offseason.

The 10-time All-Star was traded to Philadelphia in a blockbuster deal last season from the Brooklyn Nets, marking his third team in two seasons after the Rockets traded Harden to the Nets in 2020-21.

Appearing in 21 games in his time with the 76ers during the 2021-22 season, Harden averaged an almost triple-double of 21 points, 10.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game.

The 76ers fell to the Miami Heat in six games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, where Harden averaged 39.2 minutes, 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and seven assists per game in the series.

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