The Philadelphia 76ers have had an exciting summer, re-signing All-Star point guard James Harden to a team-friendly contract while adding veteran P.J. Tucker and Danuel House as free agents. According to the NBA, the Sixers’ summer manoeuvres may not have been on the up and up.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday, the NBA began a tampering inquiry into the Sixers‘ contract negotiations with Harden and their free-agent class.

The NBA’s probe will allegedly focus on the circumstances leading to Harden declining his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season and the subsequent fallout.

Harden rejected his option on June 29, the day before the opening of NBA free agency. Just minutes into the permissible tampering period on June 30, the Sixers came to terms with Tucker and House.

The timing of the Sixers’ movements leads to the assumption that the organization already had a deal in place with Harden before he elected to opt out of his player option. As Wojnarowski pointed out, such a move would violate CBA guidelines.

If the Sixers are found guilty of misconduct in Harden’s contract predicament, the legitimacy of their free agency contracts will be called into doubt.

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Image Credits – Forbes

Tucker agreed to a three-year, $33.2 million contract with the Sixers, while House agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal.

Harden agreed to a contract for little more than $68 million, with a $33 million salary this season and a $35 million player option for the 2023-24 season. On the other hand, Harden will earn around $14.5 million less this season than he might have under his old contract. Harden had a $47.4 million option for this season, which he declined last month, stating that he wanted to give the 76ers opportunity to enhance their squad and fight for a title.

If Harden had opted in before his June 30 deadline, the 76ers would have had a more challenging time finding financial avenues to entice free agents.

In 2019, the NBA adopted tougher sanctions for tampering and removed a draught selection from the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat for making early contact with Lonzo Ball in the summer of 2021.

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