James Harden Wants The Max: What This Means For The Thunder

By Eli Friedman

Will James Harden stay in Oklahoma City? Can the Oklahoma City Thunder afford him?

In June, Harden came out and said, “This team is like a family,” Harden said. “Like, we’re really brothers. We hang out most of the time every single day. You won’t find any other team like this. I love it here … This is something special here. A dynasty is being built here. So we’re winning, we’re having fun and we’re brothers. The other stuff, you can’t buy it.”

Yesterday, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins came out and said this about the off-season, and about Harden coming back: “We’re doing good. We’re making positive steps going forward,” Perk said. “We got coach Brooks locked in. We got Serge locked in. And we’re getting close with James, and we’re getting close to keeping our unit together. And we’re still hungry.”

When Perkins asked if he’d influence Harden to stay he said,“Once James gets here it’s nothing to be said. He’ll see his family and that’s all he needs. So once he sees everybody’s faces that’s enough said.”

And today came breaking news that Harden wants a max extension.

The first question is always, what does this mean? And, money-wise it means the following: If Sam Presti and the Thunder give Harden the max, four-year $63 million, this would put their luxury tax payment at around $23 million in 2014.

As I always say, in order for Harden to stay, he is going to have to take less money then what other teams can offer him. If in fact Harden does want the max, it may put the Thunder in a tough position. Anyways, the Thunder have until October 31st to extend him.


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