As the Oklahoma City Thunder were trying to work out a deal with James Harden on an extension two weekends ago, GM Sam Presti came to a decision: a 4-year, $54 million deal was as high as the Thunder would go and he would give Harden and his party an hour to decide.
Presti did this for a number of reasons. He did it to respect the Houston Rockets because that’s the team he would trade Harden too if they couldn’t get a deal done. They needed time to sign Harden to an extension before the deadline if they got him.
But maybe Presti lost out on Harden by doing this.
“After everything we established – everything we had done – you give me an hour?” Harden told Yahoo! Sports on Monday afternoon. “This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt.”
Harden is unsure if extra time would have led him to accepting the offer rather than end up traded to the Houston Rockets.
“Who knows? Another day, who knows what another day would’ve done?”
It’s easier to imagine the situation now and why Harden made the decision to leave when it was presented to him in this way. He was taken aback by the one hour timetable and didn’t feel as appreciated anymore. It was probably very hard to imagine that the Thunder were prepared to trade him when he wasn’t ready to leave just like that.
With the clock ticking, what choice did Presti have? Rockets GM Daryl Morey said that Presti just really loved the deal he was getting back from Houston. That’s maybe why Presti was a little quicker on the trigger than some would imagine he’d be when making a decision like this.
Playing for the Thunder was something very special for Harden. He was part of a family there and the chemistry he developed with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was amazing.
But it all became a business when he was told he had one hour to decide. So he made a business decision.