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James Harden Likely To Stay With OKC Thunder

Some fans' inclinations after seeing the Oklahoma City Thunder had agreed to a four-year contract extension with Serge Ibaka meant the team would have less money to keep around James Harden, but Mike Prada at SB Nation thinks it means just the opposite.

If anything, the $48 million extension could make it more likely that Harden stays with the core built around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and now Ibaka, even if the team will be paying $51 million of it's $70 payroll before hitting the luxury tax to four players in 2013-14.

That might make it hard to see the small-market team also keeping Harden, but if one looks at the hometown discounts taken by Westbrook (who signed a standard max deal and not a "super max" deal) and Ibaka (whose deal, compared to other big men like Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert, could've been a lot higher), then there's potentially an extra $6 million or so left to add to the Harden negotiations.

Not to mention to precedent set by teams like the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers of superstar players teaming up to form super teams. If winning matters to Harden, it's tough to envision a better situation for him to be than in OKC.

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