NBA News: James Harden's Paycut Draws Suspicion Around League Officials

James Harden
Shutterstock | 1390159

Ernesto Cova

James Harden took a step forward and did what veteran leaders do. He took a pay cut to help the Philadelphia 76ers build a better roster and pursue an NBA championship.

But, apparently, the former MVP can't catch a break, as even when he takes an altruist approach, people suspect he's got an agenda. This time, it could get him and his team in a lot of trouble.

Harden's Contract Was Suspicious

James Harden
Giphy | NBA

According to Marc Stein, NBA officials are suspicious of Harden's massive pay cut, up to the point where they believe he and Daryl Morey reached an agreement on a potential next contract:

“There is a suspicion in some corners of the league that Harden had to have consented to this arrangement because he also secured a wink-wink guarantee about the future — meaning a promise from Morey that would allow Harden to recoup what he left on the table this offseason by declining the player option for next season in his new Sixers deal and then signing a whopper of a five-year deal in the summer of 2023 at almost 34," Stein reported.

It Could Be Against The Rules

James Harden
Shutterstock | 1390159

This isn't a far-fetched thought at all. Harden and Morey go way back and it wouldn't be the first time a GM tries to go around the rules to get a superstar to take less money:

“Such speculation is inevitable given how close Morey and Harden clearly are, but I’ve also heard plenty around the league question whether the Sixers, beyond the fact that these types of arrangements are against league rules, could actually bring themselves to give Harden any assurances," Stein added.

The League Could Investigate This

James Harden
Wikimedia | Mindmatrix

This isn't the first controversial move from the Sixers' offseason, as the NBA is reportedly digging deep into their signing of P.J. Tucker.

There were multiple reports that Tucker was poised to sign with the Sixers long before free agency started, leading officials to think the arrangement could be against the tampering policies. Now, Harden's pay cut only adds more fuel to the fire.

Harden Just Wants To Win

James Harden
Wikimedia | Flickr upload bot

But Harden is unbothered by the comments or critics. All he wanted was to help his team get better for the future, and they did that:

“I think we have a much deeper team,” Harden said. “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.”

Hopefully, it'll pay off.