Jun 12, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden enters the arena prior to facing the Miami Heat in game one in the 2012 NBA Finals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Rumors: James Harden wants max contract, new deal not close to done

Kendrick Perkins sounded very confident yesterday when addressing the James Harden contract situation.

The tides have turned today courtesy of this tweet from ESPN’s Chris Broussard.

If Harden truly won’t sign for anything less than the max, then that is bad news for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It’s no secret that Harden is worth a max contract extension and will receive a max offer sheet if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. The hope was always that Thunder GM Sam Presti would be able to convince Harden to take a little bit less.

A max contract would earn Harden on average $15 million per year. The Thunder just extended Serge Ibaka to a 4-year deal that will make him at least $12.25 million each season. As you can see, the max is not too much more than that. Considering that Harden is definitely worth more than Ibaka, where is it that he and the Thunder could meet in the middle?

The hope is that Presti and company can convince Harden to sacrifice a little bit and instead of getting four years, $58 million, he ends up taking something like four years, $52-54 million. Either way, the Thunder would end up in the luxury tax but it would still be important for them to be in it as little as possible.

There aren’t a lot of scenarios where you envision the Thunder keeping Harden by signing him to the max extension now with Ibaka already getting as much as he got. If Ibaka still hadn’t been signed yet, then you could still make the case OKC would sign Harden to the max and choose him over Ibaka.

Allowing Harden to become a restricted free agent next summer would make it especially tough to keep him. Teams like Dallas and Houston have already expressed interest in Harden if he is available and would be in position to offer him a max offer sheet.

Let’s hope Broussard is wrong here and Perkins is right. Perkins said all it would take is Harden coming home to OKC and seeing his family and then he’d know the decision would have to be made to sacrifice and stay in OKC.

The Thunder have until Oct. 31 to get a deal done with Harden.

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Tags: James Harden Oklahoma City Thunder

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