James Harden ‘situation’ not becoming distraction for OKC Thunder

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

The Oklahoma City Thunder like, every NBA team, are getting ready for the 2012-13 NBA season. They’ve gone through training camp and are now 2-2 in the preseason with a few games remaining.

The Thunder have some decisions to make regarding the end of their roster and they have a rookie in Perry Jones III that’s looked so good so far, he may crack the rotation.

But there’s only one question being asked in Thunder camp by the media and it’s about James Harden.

By now, we all know the situation the Thunder and Harden are in. OKC needs to sign him to an extension before midnight Oct. 31 to keep him from becoming a restricted free agent next summer.

“I think about (the contract) every once in a while, but I’m really focused on how I can improve my body and what I’ve got to bring to the table for the Thunder to win games,” Harden told ESPN.com. “Obviously it’s something to really think about, but I try to do other things to keep my mind off it. We do a great job of hanging out and really just enjoying each other’s company to where I don’t really think about it.”

The Thunder are trying not to let this distract them though, even though it’s kind of impossible. The future of this team will change so much if Harden is not in the picture. If an extension is not signed by Oct. 31, the rumors will continue to circulate Harden and his future in the league.

“The ‘James Situation,’ we really try to let that take care of itself,” Kevin Durant said. “All we focus on is getting better as a team every single day. He’s not bringing it into the locker room. It’s a tough situation, delicate, but guys just come in and work every day and not really worry about it.”

When something this important is going on, it’s hard for it not to show at least a little bit. Russell Westbrook had his struggles to start the season last year when dealing with extension talk.

Harden has only played in one preseason game so far and has been missing the rest with a minor groin injury. Harden will continue to come off the bench this season and will be the overwhelming favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award again.

The season will start Nov. 1 for the Thunder when they take on the San Antonio Spurs. By then, we will know Harden’s fate at least to an extent regarding the extension.

Topics: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

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