James Harden against Toronto in the 2022 NBA playoffs.

The Philadelphia 76ers had a disappointing end to their 2022 season when they were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs in the second round by the Miami Heat. But thanks to a financial sacrifice from star point guard James Harden, they expect to be competing for an NBA Championship next year.

According to NBA insider Shams Charania, Harden’s restructured contract includes a massive pay cut in order to give Philadelphia the salary cap flexibility necessary to form a championship-contending roster in 2023.

“James Harden is taking a $15 million pay cut for the next season that allowed Philadelphia to elevate [its] roster – with sole focus on a championship run in 2023,” the NBA insider said in a Tweet on Friday.

Harden recently opted out of his $47.2 million player option for the 2022-23 season and did not seek a long-term contract, instead opting for a short-term contract to help the Sixers improve their roster.

After he was traded to Philadelphia from the Brooklyn Nets midway through the 2021-22 season, Harden played in 21 regular-season games with the Sixers, averaging 37.7 minutes, 21 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 10.5 assists per game. He also started all 12 of their playoff games, playing an average of 39.9 minutes per contest averaging 18.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game.

While the Sixers do have a strong core including Harden and All-Star center Joel Embiid, they could still use a roster boost to get them to the next level. After earning the No. 4 seed in the NBA Playoffs last season with a 51-31 overall record, the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in six games by the Heat.

[Shams]