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Harden says he wants to stay with Thunder. But want is not the issue.

Aug 28, 2012, 10:29 AM 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

James Harden likes being a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. A lot. If we take nothing else away from the recent discussion of his contract status, that much should be clear.

Of course, I want to live in a beachfront home in Malibu. Money often complicates what we want in life.

Harden was interviewed by Spanish sports site Marca.com (a story found by the fantastic Daily Thunder) and he once again waxes poetic… well, not exactly poetic but he’s pretty clear he likes playing in Oklahoma City and wants to stay when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.

“I don’t know. I can’t make that decision,” Harden told Marca.com (about staying with Thunder). “I only focus on playing. I want to keep playing with the Thunder. I feel like home and the team is special. My teammates are like my family. We can do big things. We’ll see what happens.”

Ideally Harden wants to stay in Oklahoma City. He also wants and will get a max contract extension (four years, $58 million). There appears to be no hometown discount.

Where it gets complicated is how that contract — along with max deals for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and a new four-year, $48 million (or more with bonuses) contract for Serge Ibaka — pushes the small market Thunder into the luxury tax area. Probably $7 million to $12 million into the tax, depending on how they fill out the roster.

While the Thunder could save money by using their amnesty on Kendrick Perkins, that seems unwise with Dwight Howard now in the conference.

So the question becomes, will the Thunder owners bite the bullet and pay the tax? I still think the answer is yes. But we will need to see it to fully believe it.

  1. sun602 - Aug 28, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    “Of course, I want to live in a beachfront home in Malibu. Money often complicates what we want in life.”

    lol, why do you keep using some form of that joke? It’s getting played out!

  2. gaykegayden - Aug 28, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    “I also want a steak dinner from Kate Upton but that isn’t going to happen”

    Kurt Helin the comedian

  3. dls612 - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    There’s a thin line between money and your teammates! Excuse me, your family as u put it!

  4. kdn4 - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Does anyone not seem to pay attention to the fact that Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward (OKC’s two big money guys) are on the verge of going to jail and have lost nearly a billion dollars between them?

    • magiclikenumbers - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      It’s obvious to see what McClendon’s transgressions are, however, what has Ward done that’s lost him money and why is he about to go to jail?

  5. chicitybulls - Aug 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    He’ll be in Chicago to go with Rose in the back court. Rose, Harden, Deng, Gibson and Noah is a nice starting 5. Good on both ends of the floor.

  6. passerby23 - Aug 28, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    If I’m OKC, I play the season out. Whether they win or lose against the Lakers, how many years do the Lakers have left with their core? If they beat the Lakers, the window for LA is maybe another year, so why not amnesty Perkins? OKC is poised to compete for the long haul. If they lose, well, they couldn’t get it done with him so amnesty him. There’s no way they let Harden walk.

  7. chadinkc30 - Aug 28, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    He’s not gonna be with the Thunder, it’s obvious, his statements sound like a guy who knows that as well

  8. lakerluver - Aug 28, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    @chicitybulls, I’m not predicting that’s where he’s going but it’s the best place for him. “The Beard” & Rose would make the Bulls backcourt lethal.

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