August 9, 2022

When James Harden declined his $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday, he gave the Sixers a path to the $10.5 million mid-tier non-taxpayer exception. and the semi-annual exception of $4.1 million. They wasted no time using both once free agency officially began at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The Sixers have agreed to a fully guaranteed, three-year, $33.2 million contract with forward PJ Tucker, according to Shams Charania from The Athletic, and agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with Danuel House Jr., according to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski. A source has confirmed both signings with Liberty Ballers. The second year of House’s contract is a player option, according to PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck.

The Sixers weren’t done there, though. They also signed reigning G League MVP Trevelin Queen to a two-year, $3.3 million deal, according to Chris Haynes from Yahoo Sports. A source told Liberty Ballers that the contract contains a partial guarantee in 2022-23, which Derek Bodner of the Daily Six Newsletter reported was $300,000.

Harden has yet to officially agree to the terms of his next contract, although he and the team are expected to meet this weekend to negotiate, according to Wojnarowski. Considering the Sixers have already spent their non-taxpayer MLE and semi-annual exception, they likely have an idea in mind for Harden’s salary next season.

With 15 players currently under contract (not counting Harden), the Sixers have over $120.5 million in salary on their books. They are about $36.4 million below the $150.7 million luxury tax apron, which is the line that teams cannot cross at any time during a league year during which they use the non-taxpayer MLE, semi-annual exception or acquire a player via a sign-and-trade.

If the Sixers don’t have any other moves lined up this offseason, Harden can’t make more than $36.4 million next season. That’s $11.0 million less than the player option he turned down and $10.1 million less than the maximum salary he’s allowed to earn as a free agent. The Sixers can give him 8% annual raises from there, but the most he could earn on a three-year contract is $118.0 million, nearly $33 million less than his maximum.

The signings of Tucker and House cannot become official until the July moratorium is lifted at noon ET on July 6. Until then, the Sixers could be looking to create more wiggle room under the apron to give Harden more money next season.

Once the Sixers come to terms with Harden, they will have 16 players under contract. The rosters can expand to 20 players during the offseason (including two-way players), but the Sixers will have to give up at least one of their non-two-way players before the regular season begins.

Even if the Sixers waive Queen, her $300,000 guarantee will remain on their books, though they free up $1.3 million of wiggle room under the apron. Third-year guard Isaiah Joe could also find himself on the chopping block, especially after the additions of House and De’Anthony Melton, as his $1.8 million salary is entirely unsecured until opening night. .

The Sixers could also consider a consolidation trade over the next few days to clear a spot on the roster and potentially free up more space under the apron. If they combine the salaries of Furkan Korkmaz ($5 million) and Matisse Thybulle ($4.4 million), they could target someone in the $6-8 million range to achieve both goals at the time. time.

If they can’t find takers for the Korkmaz-Thybulle package, the Sixers could instead consider a Tobias Harris trade as a way to cut some salary.

The cleaner deal might be to send Harris to the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward, who has two years and about $61.6 million remaining on his contract. He’s making about $7.5 million less than Harris next year, though both Harris and Hayward have trading perks in their contracts.

Harris owes the lesser of 5% of the total value of his remaining contract or $5 million if traded, while Hayward has a 15% kicker. Harris’ trade kicker would add approximately $1.9 million to his cap reached in each of the next two seasons, while Hayward’s trade kicker would add $4.6 million. Harris and Hayward could choose to give up their trade kickers — trade math works both ways — but the Sixers would only save about $3 million if Hayward didn’t give up his.

The Sixers could also pursue a signing and trade in which Harris is the matching salary heading to another team. One such possibility could be sending Harris and Korkmaz and/or Thybulle to the Indiana Pacers for freelance forward TJ Warren and guard Buddy Hield, who has two years and $40.5 million left on his current contract. However, signings and trades must last at least three years, including a fully guaranteed season, so Warren should be receptive to this type of contract structure.

Until Harden accepts the terms and officially signs his new contract, the Sixers will have minimal flexibility to increase what he can earn next year. But if he’s okay with a salary of no more than $36.4 million, they can retire each of their reported signings during the offseason and re-sign him while remaining under the apron.

Unless otherwise stated, all statistics via NBA.com, PBPStats, Clean the glass Where Basketball Reference. All salary information via spotrac Where RealGM.