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The Thunder are not stuck with “Ibaka or Harden”

Aug 18, 2012, 5:46 PM EDT

U.S. Olympic basketball player Harden watches during a training session ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the M.E.N Arena in Manchester Reuters

With Serge Ibaka officially signed to a four-year extension worth a reported $48 millon with the Oklahoma City Thunder, a mighty cry went out across the land. “James Harden is available!” Naturally, if the Thunder paid Ibaka more than some measley sum, there was no way that they would be able to retain Harden. They made their choice, and now they have to suffer the consequences, and lose Harden.

Real quick question.


The idea is that Harden and Ibaka on big-to-max extensions/new deals will put the Thunder into such financial constraints that they won’t be able to remain stable. They won’t be able to pay the luxury tax, because… they’re a small market? They will want the financial flexibility… to sign lesser players?

Here, let Daily Thunder sort this out for you.

The Thunder are locked in on getting a deal done with Harden as well. There’s never been any of this “Harden or Ibaka?” talk within the organization. It’s all about keeping both and while Presti has always acknowledged challenges in doing that, he’s never shied away from that being the goal.

“We’re going to continue our conversations with James. We very much value him,” Presti said. “We want him to be part of the organization moving forward. We’re excited he’s a member of the Thunder and we hope he’ll be with us for years moving forward.”

via With Serge Ibaka’s deal done, the focus turns to James Harden | Daily

It’s true that ownership always talks big about spending and actually doing it is another matter. It’s true that management always says it’s going to keep players until it doesn’t get done. And it wouldn’t shock anyone for the Thunder to ship Harden out in a trade suddenly. After all, there were whispers of him in talks around the trade deadline and at the draft. It’s unlikely. But it’s possible. No one’s going to be surprised if Harden’s not with the Thunder next year. But you shouldn’t be shocked if he is, either.

Limited ability to stock the roster behind the big four? Have you been paying attention? You have to have three stars and a good role player to win in this league now. That’s how it’s built. And the Thunder have proven they can get guys at the back of the line and still stock the roster.

There’s no sure thing with this situation. But don’t think that just because Ibaka got his that Harden will have to from someone else. This is the first time we’ve seen Clay Bennett and company in this situation. Let’s see what happens.

  1. lakerluver - Aug 18, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    With or without “The Beard”, OKC ain’t guaranteed to win anyhing!! Durant is a superstar and might one day be the NBA’s best. But why do we just assume Westbrook is gonna become a better floor general? Or that Serge is gonna become a better offensive player? Or that the Harden we saw in the Finals isn’t the “real” Harden? I recall a team that featured Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth, Terry Porter all in their prime AND a good bench. That team won exactly 0 titles!! How about the Buffalo Bills team led by Jim Kelly? How many HOF’ers did that team have? Different sport but another team that we just assumed would win titles. How many Super Bowls did they win? I’m looking forward to OKC and the rest of the league trying to deal with the “new” version of the LAKERS.

  2. 24thesho - Aug 18, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    I really don’t get it with these owners and players. They finally have a unit that could do great for years and possibly win a championship or two within the next 2 or 3 years; this group seems to stay out of the headlines, in terms of negative press. They have at least one possible future HOFer and a chance to do it “right” and here is Oklahoma(?) in this money situation after having been to the NBA Finals 2 years in a row and now this money / contract nonsense? And Harden is going to get better. It’s like they (the owners) are all 13-14 year old girls with different crushes until the next new soon to be popular guy shows up and then the owners (the girls, that is) and GMs all have their faces pressed against glass of the classroom or gym door trying sneak a peak of the new “it” guy. They’re all pressing the “create the panic” button.

  3. eugenesaxe - Aug 18, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    They’d be stupid to get rid of Harden now. I still see LA as best in the West if they don’t break, but that’s only for two years. OKC has a good chance to challenge them now, and take over once LA falls apart. Bennett said he’d pay the tax if they were a contender, let’s see how good his word is.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 18, 2012 at 8:22 PM

      I personally think the Thunder is still better than the Lakers right now.

      • wjmoffatt - Aug 18, 2012 at 9:19 PM

        Perkins can slow Dwight. All up to Westbrook.

  4. superseahawk - Aug 18, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Am I the only one looking past the season and into the playoffs right now? I want to these two teams play each other for seven games with a trip to the Finals on the line.

  5. lakerluver - Aug 18, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    What makes you think the LAKERS are gonna “fall apart”? The franchise is positioned to win now AND in the future. You seem to think the LAKERS are only going to be contenders for the next 2-3 seasons. However, I see the LAKERS reloading in 2-3 seasons with the money that will be freed up after the contracts of Kobe, Nash, Pau and Artest come off the books. At that time they’ll be left with a 29 yr old Howard and millions to spend on free agents to put around him.

    • wjmoffatt - Aug 18, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      How do you see them positioned to win in the future? They still have yet to sign Dwight. Then who else is on the roster that’s going to be hitting their prime in a couple years that’s any good? The Lakers have a chance to win this year and this year only with the roster they have.

      • loungefly74 - Aug 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM

        true…dwight has not signed yet…but there is a good chance.

        “…to win in the future?”…yeah, not sure where you have been the past 30 years but the Lakers have been to 15 finals during that time. soooo…now they are going to struggle to contend? yeah, don’t think so. as Lakerluver pointed out…the Lakers reload/resign/get the big fish, etc…

        about OKC…well, we will see. im going to guess harden will want a max/near max deal…can OKC afford it? i don’t know. i guess it depends on their money situation, willingness, etc…i guess it does help that they are a “new” team so they kinda have a clean slate (but lets not forget, the franchised languished for years and years…something the Lakers haven’t done too many times)

      • passerby23 - Aug 19, 2012 at 1:10 AM

        The Lakers won’t suffer as badly as other rebuilding teams. For starters, a lot of guys want to play in LA. Second, they will have huge cap room to lure big name free agents. Third, the chances of Howard re-signing are high. Unlike the Knicks, who were in playoff obscurity for almost a decade, the Lakers don’t have an assortment of bad contracts on their books for years to come.

        As for Harden, I see OKC amnestying Perkins to free up cap room. They’ll hope Orton or Thabeet can develop into serviceable big men to replace Perkins. Then, they’ll be in good shape.

    • eugenesaxe - Aug 19, 2012 at 12:01 AM

      You do realize people don’t give a crap what you say, don’t you?
      Blind fanboyism is hardly a basis for intelligent debate.
      Quit acting like you’ve accomplished something just because you like LA.

  6. lakerluver - Aug 18, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    The problems teams are gonna face against the LAKERS is when they double up on Dwight or Kobe that’s gonna leave someone open. More than likely that player will be Artest, who is a streaky shooter at best. HOWEVER, the LAKERS have Jamison/Meeks off the bench, who both can (and will) knock down open shots. If teams play the LAKERS straight up Nash/Howard/Pau will kill them on pick & rolls. AND someone will still have to guard Kobe 1 on 1. Good luck with that! It’s going to be fun watching teams try to match up with the LAKERS starting 5!

  7. lakerluver - Aug 18, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    Obviously, you don’t understand the way the LAKERS do business. For arguments sake let’s just say Dwight doesn’t want to lose 25 million bucks, loves playing for the LAKERS and re-signs.The team will compete for titles with “this” core for the next 2-3 years–and I believe they will win 2 of the next 3 titles. Then after Kobe/Nash/Pau/Artest leave what do you think the franchise will do, fold up its tent and go out of business?! I’ll tell you exactly what they’re gonna do. They’re gonna take all that money and sign the top free agent or two to team up with Dwight, which is what the franchise ALWAYS does. Dude, why can’t you see that? Haven’t you learned anything from watching the LAKERS over the last 30 odd years? Kareem, Shaq, Pau and Howard?! The LAKERS only goal is to win championships. Elite players want to play for the LAKERS. The only player in 2-3 years that will have a long-term contract will be Dwight. You don’t think that’s a coincidence, do you? The LAKERS management is brilliant. That’s why they win a title just about every 3-4 years!!

    • jolink653 - Aug 19, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      So what you’re saying is once everyone except Dwight is off the team, the LAKERS (not sure why you use all caps every time you mention them) will just buy up all the best players…Yeah their management sure is brilliant to buy the best available players…And why would you assume Dwight is staying? How long did he say he wanted no part of LA and the only reason he’s there is because no one else would trade for a rental…When’s the last time outside of Kobe and I’ll even give you Bynum that this team actually developed a decent player instead of buying them? This is exactly why everyone outside LA hates the Lakers because they buy all their talent and then all their fans rave about how great the team and the management is…When OKC beats this team in the Western Conference Finals what will the excuse be? Dwight’s still not fully healthy? Pau’s too old and still can’t put it together in the playoffs? Nash is too old and can’t defend at all? OKC still has the better bench and they can match up with every player on the Lakers extremely well plus they’re much younger

    • jasontaylor9944 - Aug 20, 2012 at 12:21 AM

      Who cares about either of these teams? Neither the LAKERS nor the THUNDER can compete with the best player in the world, MVP-FINALS MVP-OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST- and most importantly…WORLD CHAMPION Lebron betterthankobeeverwas James. It’s Lebron’s world, we can only WITNESS.

  8. proballerslounge - Aug 19, 2012 at 5:52 AM

    Read the link above if you were a Kings fan last decade.

  9. buffalo65 - Aug 19, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    Lakers will struggle. Nash needs the ball, Kobe demands he gets it and Dwight….what a locker room killing baby he is. Lakers=disaster.

  10. worldbfree4me - Aug 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    How could a self professed “Laker Lover” forget to mention Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain as a big for the Franchise? Wow

  11. eventhorizon04 - Aug 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    I don’t think it’s really possible to win a championship without paying the luxury tax, so Bennett needs to decide if he’s committed to winning championships or not.

  12. isujames - Aug 19, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Lakerluver=Wishfull thinker.

  13. mrheavychevy - Aug 19, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    Laker nation everyone else SUCKS!

  14. chargersallday17 - Aug 19, 2012 at 8:42 PM


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