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Report: Wizards’ owner rejected trade for James Harden

Dec 12, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

James Harden AP

James Harden — his playmaking skills, his 24.7 points per game and his beard — could have been members of the Washington Wizards. But owner Ted Leonsis balked at the cost.

That according to a Washington Post report:

The Washington Wizards turned down a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for James Harden this summer because team owner Ted Leonsis was unwilling to commit to what would have been a roughly $80 million, five-year contract for the high-scoring player, according to multiple people with knowledge of the proposed deal.

The Wizards would have sent rookie guard Bradley Beal and second-year forward Chris Singleton to the Thunder in return for Harden, winner of the NBA’s sixth-man award with Oklahoma City last season, according to these individuals, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the proposal.

You should take this runor with a grain of salt, for a couple reasons. For one thing, another source told the Post the Thunder wanted a third, “established player” in the deal and the Wizards woudn’t do that.

Second, it’s become known Thunder GM Sam Presti was testing the waters a lot of places for Harden this summer, but he didn’t plan to pull the trigger until negotiations failed right before the season started. So while there may have been Wizards and Thunder talk, it may not have been an offered deal.

Obviously, the Rockets eventually landed Harden in a deal based around Kevin Martin.

The Thunder made out much better anyway. Beal has struggled as a rookie, giving the Wizards 11.7 points per game on just 34.9 percent shooting. Kevin Martin is an established scorer in the league — 15.8 points per game on 47 percent shooting from three. Martin has stepped into the Harden space and the Thunder have barely missed a step. They remain the best in the West right now.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.

As for the Wizards, I get Leoniss wants to build through the draft, but you need a star to win in this league and Harden is an Olympian and a guy who has gone deep into the playoffs. He’s still learning how to be the focal point of a team. But he would have made the Wizards a lot better now and going forward. It’s the kind of aggressive deal that the best mid-market teams do.

  1. lemfaxx - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Is this a news? Its much better to know that MWP watched the fight of pacman $ marquez last sat…

  2. charlescub80 - Dec 12, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Could have been the start of a good young core. Guess if true was Wizzed down the toilet.

  3. mungman69 - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    The Wizzards, what a joke.

  4. spthegr8 - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    & That’s why the Wizard’s SUCK!!! Ted re-signed Ernie for less money. Which means that, Ted is okay with Ernie staying and running the team into the dirt. As long as he is willing too do it for less money. They better do something soon. John Wall’s rookie contract is gna be up soon and If I were him. I would HAUL A$$!!!! & with the trade they made last year. They are handicapped with Ariza’s and Okafor’s contract. How Ernie still has a job, just BLOW’S MY MIND!!!!!

  5. irvness21 - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    If this is true the wizards deserve to be where they are at today. John Wall and James Harden would have been real great to build a franchise with. Wall, Harden and a a healthy Nene could make the 8 seed in the east. This is why Grunfeld has to go.

  6. modellforprez - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    I take every runor with a grain of salt! doesn’t everybody?

  7. lakerchuy - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Kurt likes his articles like he likes his runors… with a grain of salt, but hold the spell check please.

  8. albertmn - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Didn’t Harden kind of disappear in the playoffs last year, at least in their last series? Maybe I am remembering incorrectly, but I seem to recall him struggling when they were eliminated. Granted, that is small sample size, so you can’t put too much into it. And, while Harden has been great so far, no one could guarantee how he would do as the lead guy on an NBA team. He has always been the 3rd, 4th, 5th option in the NBA or the latest Olympics.

  9. LPad - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I would take this with a grain of salt for a few reasons.

    1 Would Harden sign an extension with Washington, if not then it is a bad trade for the Wizards.

    2 I have a hard time believing that OKC, considering how well they did when they had lottery pick, wouldn’t demand a draft pick from the always lottery bound Wizards.

    3 At the time, people were comparing Beal to Ray Allen and were talking the Milwaukee/Seattle Ray Allen. I personally don’t think its a good comparison given that Allen is taller, stronger, maybe faster, and shot the ball better in college. But I wouldn’t trade a young Ray Allen for Harden especially if I wasn’t sure Harden would resign.

  10. borderline1988 - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Hindsight is always 20/20.

    Fact is, Bradley Beal was looking real good in the draft process, and Harden was just coming off a terrible postseason. And Harden would have wanted max money on the Wizards, whereas those Wizards players are practically free.

  11. rockthered1286 - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    “Beal has struggled as a rookie, giving the Wizards 11.7 points per game on just 34.9 percent shooting. Kevin Martin is an established scorer in the league — 15.8 points per game on 47 percent shooting from three…”
    Seems pretty off-based to make this comparison.If Martin is an “established” scorer, yet he’s only averaging 15.8, while Beal, a rookie with a few months under his belt in the NBA is scoring 11.7 at only 34.9%, doesn’t that actually show Beal has more upside once he gets a feel for the league? If Beal were shooting closer to 50% he’d be putting up nearly the same, if not better, numbers that Martin. You can also look at the team as a whole. Beal is dealing with the friggin Wiz. It’s a makeshift team of backups aside from NeNe (until Wall comes back). On the flipside, teams playing the Thunder have 4 other guys on the floor that they actually have to worry about.

  12. pmpott - Dec 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Yet another feather in Ernie’s cap. Why does this guy still have a job?

  13. bluestar4ever - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Maybe they could have afforded to sign Harden to a max deal if they traded for the bad contracts of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Quick poll, anyone out there rather have Okafor/Ariza than James Harden? Didn’t think so

  14. ckinthekc99 - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Sorry but can we quit talking like John Wall is some superstar please? He’s been in the league long enough to quit with that notion

  15. dko83 - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    I absolutely cringed when I read this. So terrible. If you’re John Wall would you re-sign here? This team is going to be bad for a long time.

  16. rockthered1286 - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Other thing people need to realize- Teddy Leonsis is all about building from within. Take it from a Capitals fan who cannot name the last big FA signing on our hockey team (maybe Jagr 5 years ago?). Leonsis is a firm believer in the draft, bringing guys up through the ranks, and paying them when the time comes. For a hockey standpoint, you can look at stars like Ovechkin, Green, Backstrom who were all draft picks and now flourish in the NHL.

    The main difference though? Caps have a great front office and the pieces in place to scout, evaluate and draft good talent. The Wiz….eh, not so much. Don’t get me wrong. I truly believe in Beal becoming a great player (not saying he’ll be a routine All-Star, but he’ll be solid considering what this years draft had to offer) and nobody can tell me they thought Wall would be as subpar as he is today. BUT look at their draft picks since the Wall draft:
    Wall (injured), Lazar Hayward (out of NBA), Nemanja Bjelica (Serbia, rights traded to Wolves), Shelvin Mack (out of NBA), Chris Singleton (bench fodder), Jan Vessely (bench fodder), Tomas Satoransky (Czech league), Bradley Beal.That’s flat out pathetic. I want someone to show me a worse 3 year span of draft picks in the NBA. In the end, Teddy needs to get it through his head that this is not hockey. You don’t get a dozen picks and hope you strike gold. If your current team in place sucks, and those evaluating talent suck, maybe you pull the trigger and either roll some heads in the FO or make a FA splash. Otherwise this team is doomed…again.

  17. jshawaii22 - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    The article specifically ‘blames’ the OWNER, not Ernie for rejecting the trade. By ‘rejecting’ that would indicate to me that Ernie, indeed proposed it to the owner, who turned it down. Quit blaming the messenger.

    After James Harden was terrorized by that idiot MWP Laker’s elbow, he was not the same player. I think he had a concussion at a minimum and it showed in the finals. How that douche still is allowed to play BB, I don’t know. MWP is one of the #1 reasons the Laker’s suck this year.

    OKC #1!

  18. 00maltliquor - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    If that’s true then there should be no hope for fans and John Wall should bounce after his contacts up if he wants to ever be a part of a winner. Ownership SUCKS over there.

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