Harden opts out to give Philly flexibility

James Harden is taking less in the hope that the Philadelphia 76ers can do more.,A person familiar with the situation said Harden chose not to exercise his $47.4 million option for next season and will become a free agent-but with no designs on leaving Philadelphia. Harden made the decision to allow the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign other players this summer, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side confirmed those plans publicly.,That is a major factor as the NBA opened the negotiating window for free agency on Thursday, with Philadelphia among the teams that will be expected to target Miami forward PJ Tucker, among others.,The most likely scenario for Harden now is this: The 10-time All-Star signs a new deal with Philadelphia, for something close to that $47.4 million number, after the team has addressed other needs and improved its chances of becoming a true championship contender in 2023.,If Harden had opted in before his Wednesday afternoon deadline, Philadelphia would have had a much more difficult time in finding financial pathways toward luring free agents.,His decision Wednesday backed up what Harden said May 12, when Philadelphia’s season ended in the second round of the playoffs-a six-game loss to top-seeded Miami.,”I’ll be here,” Harden said that night when asked about his future. “Yeah, I’ll be here. Whatever makes this team, whatever allows this team to continue to grow and get better and do the things necessary to win and compete at the highest level.”,Harden is a three-time scoring champion and averaged 22.0 points and 10.3 assists during his time with Brooklyn and Philadelphia last season. The seven-time All-NBA player was the 2018 NBA MVP and a member of the league’s 75th anniversary team.,In other contract moves on Wednesday, ESPN reported Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal declined his $36.4 million option and will become a free agent.,The Wizards will still have a chance to sign Beal to a new five-year maximum contract or he could decide to sign with another team on a four-year maximum deal.,In an eye-catching pre-free agency move, the Atlanta Hawks reportedly acquired All-Star guard Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs for veteran Danilo Gallinari and three future first-round draft selections.,Murray, 25, made his NBA debut with the Spurs during the 2016-17 season. He was the last remaining player on the Spurs roster to have played with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.,Murray scored 21.1 points per game, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.2 assists last season and finished second in the league with 13 triple-doubles.,A versatile defender, Murray will be a dangerous complement to explosive Atlanta scorer Trae Young as the Hawks aim to regain the magic that saw them reach the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago before they fell in the first round to Miami this season after fighting through the play-in.,Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves are bringing back reserve forward Taurean Prince, who became a vital part of the second unit in his first season with the club.,Prince has agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract extension, according to a source.,Cap raised,The NBA salary cap for 2022-23 is up by $11.6 million per team to $123.6 million, ESPN reported on Wednesday.,In 2021-22, teams had a salary cap of $112,414,000(up from $109 million the previous year), benefiting from the new digital-rights agreements and expansion of broadcast rights the NBA included in its most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement.,Agencies