The Oklahoma City Thunder have until midnight, Oct. 31 to sign James Harden to a contract extension. Otherwise, Harden will become a restricted free agent next summer an undoubtedly be receiving max contract offer sheets.
Sources close to the situation today are saying that a deal is likely to be met between Harden and the Thunder.
Harden and the Thunder seem like they are going to reach a deal. Sources close to the situation say there is such a desire by Harden to end the speculation that he may cave on his max contract demands. What’s been said is that a heavily incentivized deal would be what gets it done, and that kind of deal could get Harden to max money if the Thunder continues to dominate in the West. The NBA counts “easy to achieve” incentives against the cap, however, incentives that are deemed hard to achieve, like making the Conference Finals or being named an All-Star do not count against the cap. This could be the loophole that gets Harden signed, simply because of how good the Thunder have been in the West. A deal isn’t a deal until both sides sign it and get it approved by the league, but there appears to be a real desire on all sides to end the circus that Harden’s impending free agency is causing and it seems the Thunder and their ownership are willing to lock James up now.
This makes a lot of sense. We know Harden really wants to stay in OKC and has said before that he would be willing to sacrifice to do so.
Serge Ibaka’s deal is also like that. It is worth at least $49 million over four years but Ibaka could make as much as $51 million.
Harden making All-Star teams and the Thunder making the Western Conference Finals for years to come is a safe bet for both sides. It seems like the best kind of deal to sign Harden to.
Thunder GM Sam Presti said that it would be difficult to keep Harden. Maybe this is what he met by that, coming up with a way to get Harden the money he would elsewhere or at least close to it, while it not hitting OKC as hard salary cap-wise.
Harden struggled in the preseason games the past few weeks and maybe the contract negotiations are a reason why. There are no more preseason games left for the Thunder and their first regular season game won’t be until after the deadline to sign Harden to an extension.