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Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden has declined his player option for the 2022-2023 NBA season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Now, Harden is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Sixers landed Harden via trade ahead of the 2022 deadline. As the Sixers looked to get an All-Star to replace Ben Simmons, Harden grew disgruntled in Brooklyn, forcing the Nets to take on an offer of Simmons, Andre Drummond, Seth Curry, and draft picks in exchange for Harden and Paul Millsap. 

When Harden joined the 76ers, he had an opportunity to pick up his player option for next season. While it was reported Harden did opt-in, the star guard made it clear that wasn’t the case during his introductory press conference. However, Harden left no doubt about his future in Philly.

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Over time, it was rumored that Harden would either pick up his option for the 2022-2023 season or potentially take less on a new deal in order to offer the Sixers flexibility for the short-term future. After the Sixers’ playoff run, Harden reiterated he planned to be back with the Sixers and would do whatever it takes to help set the team up for championship success.

On Wednesday night, Harden declined his option officially. Per Charania, Harden plans to return to the team on a short-term contract as his sole focus is winning a title in Philadelphia next season. 

With Harden declining his player option, the Sixers now have more room to sign complementary pieces when free agency opens up this week. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.

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