The Oklahoma City Thunder is the only elite team left with no superstars pairing up, and that’s because they’ve built their team via the NBA Draft. They have enjoyed success the past few years despite being in the lower tier of NBA salaries. Their young players of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden are all just coming from rookie deals which are why their extensions have just started kicking in the last year or so. Now the Thunder has signed both Durant and Westbrook to Max Extensions and has signed Ibaka to a contract upwards of 12 Million a year. Harden’s contract has become the biggest question mark for this young squad moving forward.
It was reported that Harden also wants a max contract and if he gets what he wants, the Thunder will be in salary tax hell for the foreseeable future. It will definitely be an interesting situation as the Thunder has until October 31 to sign Harden and if they fail to sign him in October, then he will be a restricted free agent in 2013.
It is obvious that Harden is a max-calibre player and if he becomes a restricted free agent, he will get a max contract elsewhere. If the Thunder is hesitant in signing Harden to the contract he wants, then they may risk losing him as he will definitely get the max from another team. Harden is adamant that he wants to stay with the team though, so the situation is really quite tricky. Will Harden budge and take a pay cut to sign with the Thunder, or will the Thunder brass blink and sign him with the max to appease him?
Whatever happens with this situation, what we know is that Harden is in a precarious scenario where he may play his last year with this squad. Despite his perceived loyalty with the Thunder and calling this teammates his “family”, money talks though, and he may look for his “family” elsewhere. Otherwise, we could see him make the ultimate team sacrifice and sign a contract extension for lesser than the max.