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Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden struggles to 16 points, Thunder beats Mavs

Oklahoma City finishes the preseason with a 4-3 record. The focus shifts to the regular season and whether Thunder management can resign Harden.
By John Rohde Modified: October 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm •  Published: October 24, 2012

What does all this have to do with Harden's contract negotiations?

Perhaps nothing.

Perhaps everything.

Recent Thunder history has shown a player's prowess on the court directly coincides with signing a new deal.

The Thunder announced on Jan. 19 that Westbrook had signed a five-year extension last season. In the week before the announcement, Westbrook averaged 27.0 points, 6.0 assists, 5.6 rebounds, shot 52.1 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3-pointers. He was then named NBA Player of the Week for Jan. 23-29 and again for Feb. 6-12.

Did this have anything to do with Westbrook basking in his new $73.5-million deal? (Um, yeah.) Suffice to say, Westbrook wasn't depressed at that time.

OKC signed power forward Serge Ibaka in August to a four-year, $49-million extension (plus incentives).

Ibaka just had a monster preseason, leading the Thunder in scoring (16.0) and rebounding (7.3). He also shot 58.6 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range.

Does Brooks think the contract has become a distraction for Harden?

“He hasn't ever given me any indication that is even a factor,” Brooks said. “He's never brought it up. I think James has a lot more improvement to be made in his game, and that's our focus.”