James Harden already said he’s staying with the 76ers.

He also said he’d sign a contract extension with the Nets then instead forced a trade to Philadelphia. Upon joining the 76ers, Harden said he’d opt in.

Harden’s salary next season will be lower than if he opted in:

Player-option salary: $47,366,760 Max salary as a free agent: $46,526,382

After Harden’s underwhelming playoffs, the 76ers reportedly won’t offer him a max contract.

Harden was reportedly open to taking a discount to help Philadelphia. Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who also just opted out, was a rumored target. But Beal seems set to re-sign with Washington.

Harden will take a far smaller pay cut that allows the 76ers to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception – maybe on P.J. Tucker.

If over the hard-cap line, Philadelphia could use only the taxpayer mid-level exception, which might not be enough to lure Tucker from the Heat or other suitors.

With his next deal to be sub-max regardless, Harden can take his pay cut next season – when it’d most help the 76ers – and still get the same total compensation over the length of the deal.

Harden also satisfies his desire to become a free agent for the first time in his career.

All signs point to him returning to Philadelphia. But with Harden – who has proven to be volatile – unencumbered by a contract, everything is open to him in unrestricted free agency.