James Harden can still opt-in with the Philadelphia 76ers in late-June, he can still sign a massive extension with the Philadelphia 76ers come August. I would imagine those are still the most likely scenarios to play out here. But... man oh man is there a lot of time before now and June.
Everything has been sunshine and rainbows for Harden since he landed in Philly a few days ago. Only seeing Lil Baby at a strip club truly makes him *this* happy.
But, it's the NBA. And it's James Harden, a man on his third team in the last 13 months. What if someone suffers a major injury between now and the end of the season and their timetable for recovery doesn't project them to play until late-next season? Now all of a sudden he's the top free agent on the market and can sign wherever he wants. That wasn't an option as recently as 24 hours ago when the 76ers had very much banked on him being under contract for the '22-'23 season. And that matters because he could walk for nothing. Even if in a few months it turned out that he actually hated Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris for some reason, the 76ers still could have got a haul back for him. Now, at least on paper (rather, lack of paper), the potential exists for this to be a couple month fling and nothing more. Which is more than enough for me to point and laugh today.