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Thunder only gave Harden an hour to consider final contract offer

Nov 6, 2012, 3:37 PM EDT

James Harden

There should be no looking back at this pont for James Harden. He’s flourishing in his new role with his new team, leading the league in scoring through three games with the Rockets at an average of over 35 points per contest.

But Oklahoma City was a special situation; there was a core of young players there who built a legitimate contender that went to the Finals just a season ago, and team chemistry seemed to be valued there perhaps more than other places.

That last part might be why Harden is still talking about how his departure came about, because although it’s business, there might have been some hurt feelings along the way.

The latest details, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Even with the rapid embrace of life as the franchise player for the Houston Rockets, something still troubles All-Star guard James Harden about the way his departure unfolded with the Oklahoma City Thunder: Why didn’t officials give him longer than an hour to consider a final four-year, $54 million offer before trading him?

“After everything we established – everything we had done – you give me an hour?” Harden told Yahoo! Sports on Monday afternoon. “This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt.”

That may seem harsh, but the Thunder were just trying to shift the negotiating leverage in the team’s favor by shortening Harden’s window to accept.

OKC likely knew Harden wasn’t budging off of his max deal demand, so this was one last desperate attempt to try to get him to make a quick decision that was in the team’s best interest, and not the player’s.

It’s the reality of business in the NBA, no different than that of any other industry. Harden has the right to be hurt by how it all went down, but he’s clearly in a better situation in Houston — both financially and professionally. It’s time to embrace it.

  1. tubal22 - Nov 6, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    “We made several efforts to try to make this work,” general manager Sam Presti said at a news conference Sunday.
    “I think there’s a point in every negotiation where you start to realize where things are lining up, and at that point you have to play the hand that you’re dealt. I feel like as an organization, we’ve made some tough decisions. This one was right up there with them.”
    Presti said the Thunder made what was supposed to be a final offer on Friday, then approached him one last time before pulling off the trade Saturday night — making sure that Harden realized he could be dealt if he didn’t accept.
    But Harden, who developed into one of the league’s most dynamic shooting guards after being the No. 3 pick in the 2009 draft, still wanted more.

  2. fanz928 - Nov 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Yes glad he went to Houston for the money

  3. rickyspanish - Nov 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    This is really old news.

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 6, 2012 at 5:23 PM

      Riiight!? Didn’t we learn about this when it all went down? Recycling is good for the environment……not so much for the internet.

  4. alildusty - Nov 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    This is another reason why I’m no longer a team fan but a player fan.

    There’s no such thing as loyalty by teams anymore. No one gives a crap about you so you have to do what’s best for yourself. Teams will ditch you with the quickness if there’s a better option.

    • bucsnsincity - Nov 6, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      I don’t disagree w you but it goes both ways, only a hand full of players are loyal… in the end it’s a business!

      • eventhorizon04 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM

        I’ll second this.

        Loyalty to fans is important…unless those fans want a player on another team, in which case, loyalty becomes overrated, and that player should abandon his OLD team and join MY team.

        Players make decisions that are in their interest, and teams make decisions that are in their interest.

      • eventhorizon04 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        Case in point, Ray Allen.
        I moved to Boston a couple of years ago for work, and a lot of fans (though not all) were fine with the potential Ray Allen trade to Memphis this year because “Ray Allen was getting old” and getting OJ Mayo would inject youth into their lineup and make the team better.

        “Loyalty is overrated, gotta let Danny Ainge do what’s best for the team!” was the mantra.

        However, when Ray Allen leaves the team to join the team that best suits him, it’s “How could Ray!?!??!? Traitor! What about loyalty?!?!? He had close emotional bond with us and betrayed us!”

      • hehateme2 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:38 PM

        Good points all. But no one ever accused the celts fans of being the sharpest tools in the woodshed.

    • jeremytamu - Nov 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      REALLY!! No team loyalty.
      What about Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Lebron James, Shaq.
      Do any these names exemplify players loyalty to the teams.
      I see more of a trend for team loyalty than I do player loyalty.

      • 00maltliquor - Nov 6, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        Sure you do.

        I don’t have enough time in the day to list all the names of players done raunchy by their team/management.

      • itsonlyaspeedbump - Nov 6, 2012 at 5:38 PM

        Good job, name 4 players that have been “disloyal” to their teams.

        I bet the list of guys who have been traded, cut, or otherwise treated as a disposable commidity is much, much longer. How does Kevin Martin feel about being an-above average scorer in his prime, good citizen, and overall solid guy only to be traded for a newer, shinier model? What about Jeremy Lamb, who is treated as an afterthought by fans and media alike, and yet was forcibly uprooted from the life he was just beginning to craft for himself?

        I bet I know your response: ‘He gets paid a lot of money to play a game. He needs to be a professional.’ That sentiment translates to ‘the star on my team must remain loyal and take less money/reduce his opportunities in order to benefit my team. After he gets old/loses his usefulness, my team does not have the responsibility to be loyal to him. Basically, the player needs to do whatever is best for my rooting interests.’

        Teams don’t need to be loyal to players. It’s potentially bad business. But don’t get upset at the player for looking after himself when no one else will.

      • raycharlesj - Nov 6, 2012 at 10:02 PM

        Jordon, Steve Kerr, Paxson, Horry, Mcgrady Vince Cater, Barkley, Drexler, Bill Walton, Rodman, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish Jason Kidd, and Terry on and on Mose Malone, Karl Malone etc. That team loyalty crap is a big myth in the NBA a big ENTERTAINMENT!!!!!! BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kareem from the bucks to the LAKERS Jamal Wilkes from the Warriors to the Lakers Rick Fox from the Celtics to the Lakers Ron Harper from the Jordon Bulls to the Kobe/ Shaq Lakers, Garnett from the twolves to Celtics, Ray Allen from the supersonic s to Boston on and on there is no such thing as “team loyalty” loyalty is bought and sold every single day in business that has always been the way of the world not just the NBA a pretty successful BUSINESS.

      • scalfor3 - Nov 7, 2012 at 1:04 AM

        Organization is obligated to do whats best for them, Player (if he’s smart) will do what’s best for himself and his family. Nothing to see here, move along folks

  5. eventhorizon04 - Nov 6, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    I actually think it was counterproductive to rush him that way.
    If they gave him a day to think about it, maybe he goes home, prays as he said, then calls a few teammates, who try to talk him into staying, then calls a few family members who tell him money isn’t everything, etc.

    By giving Harden just an hour (for no real reason), and the person he’s talking to the most is his agent (who is interested in getting the biggest deal possible for his client), he might get upset at the team for putting him in that situation and impulsively choose to leave.

    But what’s been done is done.

  6. dalucks - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    This is so sad. Why is OKC trying to make James Harden out to be the bad guy? He made the best business decision for him at the age of 23.
    What no one has mentioned is James Harden held the leverage in these negiotations. Harden was going to get a max offer from Houston, Phoenix, Charlotte or Orlando to name a few teams who have salary cap space. OKC could not match, due to the new CBA preventing teams from having 2 max contract players, so they would have lost him for nothing next summer. Why would OKC expect him to say no to 25 million dollars plus the ability to get another max deal at 28?
    OKC made a good trade and they should be more professional about this situation without doing the smear campaign against James Harden.
    Just saying.

    • bougin89 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      How are they doing a smear campaign against James Harden? Not sure where you got that from, this is just a report from a Harden quote.

    • tubal22 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      Yes, please show me where OKC said anything bad at ALL about James Harden?

      It’s Harden that’s smearing OKC.

      • sellahh - Nov 6, 2012 at 6:30 PM

        Quit ‘just saying’, your talk is trash.

  7. bougin89 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I wasn’t sitting in on the negotiations between the Thunder and Harden but IMO this sounds like the Thunder knew that Harden wasn’t going to take less money, they weren’t(you may also say couldn’t) offer the amount that would get it done and once they received a good trade offer they gave Harden an Ultimatum. The Thunder were obviously quietly making Harden available and unless Harden has a really ignorant agent he must have known getting traded was a possibility. My point is I highly doubt this was totally out of left field or at least it shouldn’t have been if you were Harden.

    All in all it was a big win for Harden. Like a previous article on this site said, he has 25 million reasons to be happy.

    • scalfor3 - Nov 7, 2012 at 1:06 AM

      The moneys nice, but the role he gets to play in Houston might be even nicer for him in the long-term

  8. pacific123ocean - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Stop whining…you earn more in one year than most of us will make in our lifetime. And, all you do is play basketball.

  9. metalhead65 - Nov 6, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Stop whining! It is not like the team had not negotiated with him prior to giving him that deadline. He refused and they gave him a final chance which they knew he would more than likely reject. They had the deal with the rockets in place why give them another day to changer their minds? He valued money over team which is right but shut about the team doing what was best for them

  10. vanmorrissey - Nov 6, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    One hour? His agent knew, or if he didn’t get rid of him,that this was coming and informed you as soon as the last CBA was signed off. That old one hour of notice for one of the most important decisions of your life crap, if that’s the case blame yourself and your agent, both knuckleheads.

  11. money2long - Nov 6, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    “OKC likely knew Harden wasn’t budging off of his max deal demand, so this was one last desperate attempt to try to get him to make a quick decision that was in the team’s best interest, and not the player’s.”

    yes..okay that makes sense and everything, but in both situations (giving harden 1 hour, or giving him the time he needed to mull over it, pray over it, talk about it with family, even durant), you would end up trading him at the end. theoretically, if the thunder gave harden the time to think about it, and he just ended up not budging, then it would look completely bad on harden. but who knows what could have happened if he was given more than an hour?

    if you trade him after an hour, you can trade him after a day or two as well. what difference did it make? that’s where this one hour business seems like something fishy, under the table nonsense was going on between the officials of houston and okc.

  12. 00maltliquor - Nov 6, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Build a bridge and get over it James. Wipe your tears away with a crisp $100 bill and keep it moving. And please warrant that contract with a playoff spot for the Rockets please, will ya? I’m tired of seeing them out the playoffs.

  13. fredagsedb - Nov 6, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    He still hasn’t made an all-star team. So don’t know why people insist on calling him an all-star. Don’t get me wrong he is an excellent player, and will make a team. Maybe this year. But untill he makes one he is not an all-star

    • scalfor3 - Nov 7, 2012 at 1:08 AM

      I don’t think he’ll have a hard time making the team this year. Other than Kobe, is there a better 2 guard in the league?

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