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Wizards’ owner says finances were not a factor in turning down deal for James Harden

Dec 15, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT

Washington Wizards v Houston Rockets Getty Images

Earlier this week, Michael Lee of the Washington Post reported that the Wizards turned down a potential trade with the Thunder that would have landed them James Harden.

The cost in terms of assets the Wizards would have to give up to Oklahoma City was relatively low — Bradley Beal and Chris Singleton were the names to be sent our of town.

The holdup on the part of the Wizards was reportedly the cost of Harden’s next contract — a max deal that would have required an investment of $80 million in guaranteed salary. It was a commitment that ownership, for whatever reason, was simply unwilling to make.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, however, came out and said that this wasn’t the case. While he didn’t mention Harden’s name specifically, he wanted to make it clear, in a post on his personal blog, that finances were not an issue.

I usually do not comment on articles that are premised on statements from anonymous sources, let alone an unauthorized anonymous source. Once you respond to a story like that you are open to having to respond to those kinds of stories all of the time. In this case, however, I need to make an exception.

I would like to debunk though a statement and notion that originated in The Washington Post that a potential trade would have put our team in the luxury tax and thus we “turned down” a deal because we were “unwilling to commit” financially. That is simply not true. First, we would not have gone into the luxury tax – that is simple math. Second, economics were not a factor.

There are a couple of factors at play here.

You can’t blame Leonsis for wanting to state publicly that he’s not afraid to invest in his teams. A perception that his position is in fact the opposite would simply be bad for business if fans believed that ownership wasn’t interested in paying the price for putting a winning product on the floor.

There’s also the possibility that it wasn’t the money by itself, but when combined with the uncertainty at that point surrounding Harden’s ability to be the number one option on a team, that it was then that the Wizards made the decision to check out.

Only Leonsis knows for sure whether it was truly a money issue, or if the Wizards weren’t sold on Harden being their franchise player of the future. But the part about questioning the reporting itself seems silly, otherwise, why bother to respond at all?

  1. abchome - Dec 15, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    But the part about questioning the reporting itself seems silly, otherwise, why bother to respond at all?

    此地無銀 (no money’s buried here) lol

  2. 00maltliquor - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:26 PM


  3. spthegr8 - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    If you feel the need too comment about it, then their is probally some truth too it Ted. Whatever your LAME A$$ reason is for not trading for Harden is, why don’t you try too explain re-signing Ernie too a new contract???????

  4. pike573 - Dec 15, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    I don’t know why this is so hard to believe. I don’t think Harden was worth it either.

  5. doctorfootball - Dec 15, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Yeah. Who wants a star like Harden when you can keep Beal and hope he becomes one in a few years? Harden is only 23 and he’s already a star, on the verge of being a superstar. No one knows what Beal’s ceiling is. Another dumb move by a sorry franchise.

  6. jjared1101 - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Is it possible that the trade did not go through because Harden would not agree to the same extension he signed with Houston?

  7. tuberippin - Dec 15, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Finances were not the issue for the Wizards. Stupidity was, is, and probably will continue to be their main issue.

  8. savvybynature - Dec 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    It had nothing to do with economics, and everything to do with incompetence.

  9. fanz928 - Dec 16, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    If wizards had harden they would be so much better off especially when John wall comes back

  10. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects - Dec 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    hmmm…maybe a 6th man isn’t worth a max contract to a team that won’t be a playoff contender anytime real soon. my bobcats suck, but i’m glad they didn’t make a deal to try to get a guy like harden, who might help them win an extra 8 or 9 games this year. i say good non-move by the wizards.

  11. halfbaht - Dec 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    The idea of Harden and Wall as a back court is much more appealing to watch then Harden and Lin. Beal would’ve been a nice fit in OKC as well, not to mention, he’s a lot younger than what they go in return in Kevin Martin. Only time will tell if this is a good non deal for the Wizards. For there sake, I hope so, be nice to see them do well after all these years of sucking

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