The Association’s deadline for any of its clubs offering extensions to their players with rookie contracts will occur fittingly enough on October 31. That means this year many players will find out if they are getting enough of a treat to stay with their current team on Halloween, or if they will be going door to door as a restricted Free Agent next July 1. One player, who most likely has that date circled on his calendar, is Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden, who won the NBA Sixth Man Award this past season and was a key member of the team that went to the NBA Finals in June.
The valuable reserve has watched as teammates Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins had their contracts extended in the last couple of years and then Oklahoma City reached a deal with starting forward Serge Ibaka earlier this summer to a four-year pact for a reported $49 million. A column in the “Oklahoman” theorizes, that Harden may have to make a decision on whether to take less money to stay with the Thunder, or if he wants to sign a max-deal he may have to find a new home.
According to the paper, Harden should be able to command a four-year pact worth between $50-$60 million, but he may have to settle for the lower end of the spectrum if he wants to stay with his team. If he decides that he wants to receive a maximum-deal contract; one possible destination could be the Phoenix Suns, as he played his college ball at Arizona State and his mother still lives in the community.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti, has done a remarkable job of building a strong team that went from the Lottery to the Finals in just four years. He is going to have his work cut out for him, if he has to convince to stay with the team for ten million dollars less than he could earn over the life of his next deal. Harden will most assuredly be a highly sought after player, if he does reach Free Agency; a scenario that one would think that Presti will try to avoid.