James Harden intended to file the paperwork to opt-in to his contract for the 22-23 season as part of his trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden didn't file the paperwork in time to meet the deadline, but he said he intends to opt-in later this year. But some in league circles are speculating that Harden could decline his option and take less money in order to give the 76ers the opportunity to acquire a third max player.

"So here's my second conspiracy theory," said Zach Lowe on his podcast. "This one, James Harden himself just debunked, if you care about what is said at press conferences. So James Harden, it was reported I think by The Athletic, that James Harden opted in as part of his trade to Philadelphia. Then it was reported hours later that he in fact had not opted in. Then it was reported days later that the reason he had not opted in was that he just missed the deadline to file the paperwork with the NBA league office. The fax got stuck in the machine. Or the signature couldn't be found or something.

"Here's the conspiracy. This is the one going around the league that James Harden, to be clear, just debunked. He's going to decline his option, re-sign for less money, so that Philadelphia can dump Tobias Harris into somebody's cap space and open up if they dump some other people an almost, almost, almost max slot for a third star. That's the one that's going around the league. And people who say that are like, 'If that happens, some eyebrows at the league office might be raised.'

"Again, James Harden says it's his intent to pick up the player option. I believe him. Maybe it was just a paperwork snafu. We've all had paperwork snafus. You send something to the wrong address, it gets sent back to you. You type in something wrong on the auto form, you have to fill it out again. It happens. Maybe it's just a conspiracy theory."