Next to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the most important player on the Oklahoma City Thunder team is James Harden . James contributions to the team were key to leading the Thunder to the NBA finals this past season. You may go as far to say that without James Harden, the Thunder are simply a playoff team and not a championship contender. With this noted, one begs the question as to why James Harden has not been signed to an extension at this point. Many have said that the reason stems from expenses; Oklahoma City had already signed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to contracts totaling $70.8 million on the books for the 2013-14 season. This possibly leaves James Harden as the odd man out. James Harden may want to stay with team, but they may not have the money to keep him as noted by ESPNs Mark Stein:
“Re-signing Harden to a max extension, then, would come at a debilitating cost. The team already has $70.8 million on the books for 2013-14. Add in a big Harden raise to, say, $13 million, then factor in the projected tax threshold of $70 million, and the league would ding the Thunder with penalties of $28 million during that season. Hmm. Harden salary: $13 million. Resulting tax: $28 million. It’d be like getting one Harden for the price of two.”
His present predicament with Oklahoma James Harden is presented with a choice; to stay in Oklahoma for less money and help the Thunder win an NBA championship, or to take his talents to another NBA team is willing and ready to pay what he is worth. There is also the speculation that was made back in July that James Harden would be traded to Charlotte Bobcats for a draft pick. One thing that can be said, the Oklahoma have a very tough decision to make before October 31st, at that time things are going to get very interesting… stay tuned.