Its the one thing that's on everyone's mind if you're an Oklahoma City Thunder fan. You don't really want to talk about it, but you know its inevitable. What is general manager Sam Presti and the Thunder brass going to do about Serge Ibaka and James Harden?
If only there were a magical wand to solve this problem for the Thunder. Since there's not, lets use some logic instead.
ESPN's Chris Palmer did an excellent job breaking down the upcoming class of 2013 free agents, as Ibaka and Harden will both be highly desired entities during next year's off-season.
"It'll be a real challenge for Thunder general manager Sam Presti to keep both Harden and Serge Ibaka, who become restricted free agents at the end of next season. It's more or less a toss-up as to who is the more valuable player. Harden, the NBA's reigning sixth man of the year, has developed a rep as the all-important glue guy and could command roughly $10 million a year for his services. Harden has the unique ability to get his own shots while not disrupting the sometimes delicate balance that exists between high-volume scorers Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It's also worth noting that Harden is closer off the floor to Westbrook and Durant, and it could ultimately play a role in Harden's possible return."
Something of note here. It will be interesting to see if the Thunder are proactive in their dealings with Harden and Ibaka. Do you wait to see if you can trade either player for additional assets in return? Do you try and sign both for hometown discounts? What about using that amnesty on Kendrick Perkins?
As always, it seems that there are more questions than answers with these two players. Lets just try to enjoy the Olympics and totally forget this discussion even happened. (Good luck with that.)
For more on the Oklahoma City Thunder, be sure to check out SB Nation blog Welcome to Loud City. For more on Team USA's journey to the 2012 Olympic Games, check out the coverage at SB Nation NBA.