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NBA Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA Rumors: Could This Be James Harden’s Last Season With Oklahoma City Thunder?

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

The Oklahoma City Thunder awarded its dominant big man Serge Ibaka with a brand new a four-year, $49 million deal that will begin next summer. Ibaka’s great 2011-12 season was the reason why he got the hefty deal. 9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and an incredible 3.7 blocks per game was enough for him to receive it. He was a vital part to the team’s NBA Finals run.

The Thunder have signed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Ibaka all to contract extensions that will keep them in a Thunder uniform beyond next season. Missing from the list of players that are vital to the team that have been re-signed by the Thunder is forward James Harden. Harden’s possible contract extension was being talked about more than Ibaka’s contract extension at the press conference Tuesday.

What about Harden? Well Sam Presti said:

“James is somebody we value. We think he’s an important part to what we’re trying to do with our team and we’re hopeful that he’ll be with us.”

However, it looks like it might be impossible for Harden to re-sign with the Thunder. If Harden is not extended by Oct. 31, he is more than likely to receive a max deal in July 2013. It is unlikely that Harden will not take the max in Oklahoma City if he could get the max offer elsewhere. To keep the Thunder under the luxury tax the team may have to let Harden walk.

Two teams that already come to mind to offer Harden the max are the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. Both teams would love to snatch up a rival’s talented player. Especially one like Harden.

Harden was drafted by the Thunder in the first round as the third pick overall of the 2009 NBA Draft. Since then, Harden has averaged 12.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He won the 2011-12 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award as well. He is also a fan favorite among the Thunder faithful.

Harden’s days seem to be numbered in OKC. There are numerous ways that the Thunder could keep Harden but he would have to agree to take much less than what the open market would give him and the team may have to cut a big man.

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