OKC Thunder: James Harden's future with Thunder comes down to dollars and cents

Deadline to sign rookie contract extensions is Oct. 31. If Harden doesn't sign with Thunder by then, he'll become a restricted free agent next summer.
By John Rohde Published: August 26, 2012


photo - NBA BASKETBALL: Oklahoma City's James Harden laughs as he stretches before practice for Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Saturday, June 16, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
NBA BASKETBALL: Oklahoma City's James Harden laughs as he stretches before practice for Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Saturday, June 16, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Pressure abounds with the Thunder.

There's pressure on the team's ownership group to come up with a viable budget.

There's pressure on general manager Sam Presti to stay within that budget.

There's also pressure on guard James Harden.

Harden is on the verge of making $50 million to $60 million over a four-year span. Yeah, I know. We should all endure such “pressure.”

The closer his deal is to $50 million, the more likely he remains in a Thunder uniform.

The closer his deal gets to $60 million, the more likely he's headed back to the Phoenix area, where he played collegiately at Arizona State for two years before becoming the No. 3 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

The deadline to sign rookie contract extensions is Oct. 31. If Harden doesn't sign with the Thunder by then, he'll become a restricted free agent next summer and free to receive offers from all suitors.

In order to retain Harden, the Thunder must match the other team's offer, which is expected to be for the maximum of four years at 25 percent of the league's salary cap (expected to be between $58 and $60 million).

If the Thunder can offer the max, presumably it will do so before the deadline to avoid any unnecessary distractions during the season.

This leads to the following conclusion: If Harden goes to market, he won't return in 2013-14.

The pressure for Harden stems from whether he will remain in OKC or be drawn back to the desert.

Harden instantly would become a hometown drawing card with the Suns, not to mention their starting guard.

Any team that bids on Harden will make him a starter. You don't offer max contracts to reserves.

Will becoming a starter lure away last season's Sixth Man of the Year? Could part of the Thunder's sales pitch include making Harden a starter?

The Thunder's modus operandi has been for Presti to get the players and for Scott Brooks to coach the team, and never the twain shall meet in contract negotiations. Not so far, at least.



Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    McDonald's Allegedly Fires Mom Whose Daughter Played Outside While She Worked
  2. 2
    Verizon: We track you, you get free stuff
  3. 3
    Is this Apple's new iWatch?
  4. 4
    Survey: Users unhappy with Facebook
  5. 5
    NBC Analyst Tony Dungy: I Never Would Have Drafted Michael Sam
+ show more