The 76ers’ disappointing exit from the playoffs has left them with crucial decisions to make for their future, and one of the major questions revolves around James Harden’s contractual situation. With a player option worth $35.6 million for next year, there have been speculations about Harden potentially leaving the team and returning to the Houston Rockets.
Following the team’s Game 7 loss to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Joel Embiid, the Sixers’ star center, shared his thoughts on Harden’s future in Philadelphia. While acknowledging that he and Harden have unfinished business, Embiid made it clear that he will not be involved in the negotiations between the team and the former league MVP.
“We got an unfinished job. We haven’t won anything,” expressed Embiid regarding Harden’s potential future with the team. “I think we got the chance to win. Obviously, going to seven games and having a chance to close it out at home, which we didn’t do. I still believe we got the chance to win. We got what it takes to win.”
“Obviously, I don’t know what’s going on and I know he has a player option so they can extend him. But that’s on those guys to figure it out. I’m gonna stay out of it. But I still believe that me and him, we got the chance to win,” Embiid continued.
Embiid emphasized the need for collective improvement, acknowledging that winning requires a team effort and not just individual star power. He called upon everyone, including himself and Harden, to reflect on their performances and find ways to enhance their contributions to the team.
“But it’s going to take more than us,” the VP said. “We all got to look at ourselves. I got to be better and I will be better. That’s what I’m focused on. All of us we got to come back and find ways to just keep improving and help the team. You can’t win alone. I can’t win alone. Me and James, we just can’t win alone. That’s why basketball is played five on five. We just need everybody to just try to keep finding ways to get better. We’ll be fine.”
During Game 7 against the Celtics, Harden struggled offensively, scoring only 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field, including 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. Despite his below-par performance in the series, Harden had notable scoring outputs in Game 1 and Game 3, contributing 45 and 42 points, respectively.
As the offseason approaches, the 76ers will undoubtedly engage in discussions to solidify their roster for the future. The potential outcome of Harden’s player option remains uncertain, but Embiid’s belief in their ability to contend for a championship suggests that he sees a path forward with their current team.