With James Harden stating that he wants a max deal when his rookie contract concludes, the Oklahoma City Thunder face a critical decision to move on from their reigning sixth man of the year or find a replacement. Could Eric Maynor be that guy?
The first ever SB Nation Kansas City mailbag begins today as Ed answers questions about the Oklahoma City Thunder, a woman who would ruin his job and his (lack) of worry about the Oklahoma Sooners versus the Kansas State Wildcats.
James Harden wants a max extension from the Oklahoma City Thunder if he's going to stay with the team that he helped take to the NBA Finals in 2012. The problem is, the Thunder might not be able to afford giving their superstar squad a round of max contracts, which could leave Harden as an odd man out.
It will be up to Harden in the end. If he wants to stay with the Thunder and win titles while making a bit less money, it's his call. If he doesn't, there will certainly be teams on the other side of the door waiting to court him with max contracts of their own.
After advancing to the NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder, winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award for the 2012 season and earning a gold medal as a member of Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics, it's safe to say it's been a good year for James Harden.
Now Harden, 23, reportedly wants a max contract from the Thunder before the Oct. 31 deadline for teams to sign their restricted free agents. The problem for the Thunder is that a max deal for Harden would launch the team's luxury tax to around $23 million, and create for issues for the young team.
Harden understands though that if he truly wants to remain with the Thunder, as he's said repeatedly, his best chance to do so will come via an extension before the deadline. Much like Ibaka did just a few weeks ago. It's his choice, it's his life, it's his money, it's his career. He's free to do what he wants to do. But he knows the pros and cons of both. Does he value an extra three, maybe four million a year over playing for a title contending team? That's the decision he's making.
The Thunder advanced to the NBA Finals during the 2011-12 season, but lost to the Miami Heat in five games. The 2012-13 season for the Thunder is set to begin on Nov. 1 against the San Antonio Spurs, one day after the deadline for the Thunder to sign restricted free agents.
The Oct. 31 deadline is the last day for teams to sign their restricted free agents. If the Thunder and Harden do not come to an agreement by that date, other teams will make offers to the 2012 Sixth Man of the Year following the 2012-13 season. Oklahoma City will have the opportunity to match those contract offers.