Jun 21, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) and small forward Kevin Durant (35) react against the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter of the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the American Airlines Arena. Miami won 121-106. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant now unsure about James Harden signing extension with OKC Thunder

Kevin Durant was certain earlier this month that James Harden would be with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the future. He tweeted on July 3 that Harden would not become a restricted free agent next summer saying, “He not hittin the market.”

Durant has since backtracked from that statement regarding Harden and now seems a little unsure about Harden’s future with the team.


This does not make any Thunder fans feel good. It was awesome when Durant seemed so sure that Harden would be signing an extension, eliminating any worry that he could possibly not be on the Thunder after next season.

Now, reality may be sinking in for Durant and Thunder fans. There is money out there to be made for Harden and there’s probably not as much money for him in OKC.

We’ve seen some big contracts handed out this summer which has basically made it very clear Harden would receive a max-contract offer sheet next summer if he becomes a restricted free agent.

Eric Gordon signed a 4-year, $58 million offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns this summer but it was matched by the New Orleans Hornets. If that kind of dough is thrown at Harden next summer, it’s hard to imagine the Thunder wanting to match the offer and enter the luxury tax which they have always avoided.

Russell Westbrook signed a 5-year, $80 million extension with the Thunder this past season. The Thunder wouldn’t be able to give Harden that much and would likely want to offer him around $2 million less per season than Westbrook.

That seems fair when you only look at the Thunder roster. Westbrook gets about $3 million less per season than Durant and it makes sense for Harden to get a little less than Westbrook. But the free agency market doesn’t care about that and is more than willing to pay Harden as much as possible.

There will be some convincing to do by Thunder GM Sam Presti to get Harden to sacrifice some cash and stay with Oklahoma City. The Thunder would like to get this done before next season begins and definitely does not want to see Harden become a restricted free agent next summer.

Expect the Thunder to reach an agreement with Harden though. They know how important he is to the organization and how rare it is to have a big three of Durant, Westbrook and Harden. They may have to dip into some luxury tax and lose Serge Ibaka to keep Harden but at the end of the day, the Thunder should do what is necessary to keep him.

Harden will be playing with Durant and Westbrook in the Olympics beginning July 29 for Team USA. Negotiations are likely on hold until after the Olympics end in mid-August.

Update: Durant responds to Deveney on Twitter


Tags: James Harden Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook Sam Presti Serge Ibaka USA Basketball

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