Sixers’ guard James Harden is ready to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Philadelphia by any means necessary, even a pay cut.
Harden is reportedly taking $15 million less next season to bring in additional talent.
“I had conversations with Daryl, 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 told Yahoo Sports. “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.”
The 76ers signed Harden’s former Rocket teammates P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr. and Trevelin Queen in free agency.
Harden, a 10-time All-Star, averaged 21 points, 10.5 assists, and 7.1 rebounds in 21 games for Philly last season after being traded from Brooklyn for Ben Simmons.
The Sixers defeated Toronto 4-2 in the first round but then fell to the Miami Heat 4-2 in the second round of last season’s playoffs.
“I think we have a much deeper team,” said Harden. “That’s something we wanted to address. If you look at our team now, we’re positioned to go a lot further. I like how we stack up with the rest of the top teams.”
Critics questioned Harden’s commitment to playing after forcing his way out of Houston and then asking to be traded from Brooklyn.
Despite averaging double figures in scoring and assists, Harden is way off his best scoring output of 36.1 points for Houston during the 2018-19 season.
“I don’t really listen to what people are saying. I wasn’t right last season and I still almost averaged a triple-double,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “If anybody else had those numbers, we’d be talking about them getting the max. People were used to seeing me averaging 40, 30 points, and so they viewed it as a down year.”
Harden professed to be in good shape and “looking forward to next season.”