Will Harden take less money?
Sounds simple, right?
But when you look at the Thunder’s track record, you’ll find that it’s not just talk.
Oklahoma City has an almost unique history of re-signing its players. The Thunder thus far has kept its core intact by committing to paying its players at market value, or somewhere close to it. But many of the players have helped the franchise as well with their own level of commitment.
Russell Westbrook, for example, didn’t get near the recognition he perhaps deserved for deciding to not milk the franchise for an additional 5 percent of the team salary when he inked his extension. As a franchise player, Westbrook could have waited to sign and qualified for additional dollars under a new provision in the collective bargaining agreement.
More recently, Serge Ibaka decided to forego the chance at more money and annual raises when he accepted a flat rate salary to stick around.
Nick Collison, meanwhile, agreed to a front-loaded deal. Thabo Sefolosha chose long term security over free agency. Nazr Mohammed returned last year on a one-year deal instead of seeking more security elsewhere. And Kendrick Perkins committed to his future in OKC just days after being traded from Boston — and remains one of the best bargains for a starting center.
Each of those players — along with Kevin Durant, who declined any opt-out clauses — stressed the importance of being a part of what the Thunder was building.
The one that got away was Jeff Green.
Harden could be next.