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Four days left and Harden, Thunder still talking extension

Oct 27, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT

James Harden AP

Halloween is the deadline for rookies from the draft class of 2009 to sign extensions. And there are some real questions out there. Would you offer an extension to Stephen Curry? What about Jrue Holiday? Or Ty Lawson? The Bulls are expected to reach a deal with Taj Gibson but it hasn’t happened yet. Tyreke Evans isn’t getting one.

But the big one remains James Harden and Oklahoma City.

The battle lines have been drawn there for a while — he wants a max deal, about $58 million over four years. The Thunder want him to take less and save them money on taxes.

Harden turned down four years, $52 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowki of Yahoo! Sports. The two sides are still negotiating.

If no deal is reached, Harden will become a restricted free agent next summer and other teams will step in with max offers and the Thunder will have the option to match.

The other, maybe more likely option if no deal is reached is the Thunder look to trade Harden at the deadline. (Frankly, even if they extend him they may try to trade him before the 2013-14 season because of the tax situation.) There has been some buzz that Harden would cave and take less not to break up the Thunder, but not from sources I fully trust. He may take a little less, but not a lot.

The tax situation is this — if the Thunder give Harden a max deal, or even $13 million, they could be on the hook for taxes in the neighborhood of $28 million in the summer of 2014. That tax would bring their total payroll into the $100 million range. You think they can afford that?

But the argument that this is all on the Harden extension is a mistake — the Thunder gave Kevin Durant a max extension and Russell Westbrook one right on the edge of max, then reached a four year, $50 million extension with Serge Ibaka this past summer. They traded for Kendrick Perkins and his nearly $9 million a year (and with Dwight Howard in Los Angeles it becomes hard to amnesty Perk). When they did all that, Thunder management knew full well what the price — and tax — for Harden would be. They made their bed long before the Harden extension came up.

This is the one big, mostly unpredictable extension deal out there. But for me, I bet they get it done. If not it gets really interesting.

  1. rocirius - Oct 27, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Taking injury history into consideration, the only shooting guards worth the max today might be Wade and Bryant. The others should max out at 7-8 million a year. It would be cool if OKC could fleece a team into trading a true max player like Chris Paul for Harden.

  2. jmota222 - Oct 27, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    I would hate to see the BIG 3 in OKC split up and with that being said “PAY DA MAN” !!!!!!

  3. clevelandschronic2 - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    You took injury history into consideration and still said wade lol. No way wade is a max any more. Hes having way too many problems with them knees, besides wade wont have as lengthy a career as u seem to think. Hes no kobe.

  4. clevelandschronic2 - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    And regarding the actual article i definitely dont want to see the thunder 3 break up. But one if the sides are gonna have to cave. That tax is gonna be nasty if its the thunder cave. Bet ticket prices will go up a chunk.

  5. libertynchurch - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:18 PM

    Traded to Houston? Interesting….

  6. mcqphx - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    Traded to Rockets

  7. rocirius - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Clevelandschronic: to clarify, I may be wrong, but I think Wade will be good for at least 3 more years. Same with Kobe. I would give any SG a 4 year max deal. I really think only LeBron and Durant are currently worthy of max deals for max years, but I understand that franchise owners love to throw caution to the wind when handing out max deals.

  8. rocirius - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    I meant to say “would NOT give any SG a max deal.”

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