Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
The Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden have yet to agree on a contract extension. Harden has stated that he wants a maximum contract offer from the Thunder but they are very close to being over the luxury tax after paying Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka big money.
If things don’t change soon Harden could find himself on the open market in 2013. October 31st is the deadline for the Thunder to get a deal done with Harden. If they do not work a deal out other teams will be able to go after him. Oklahoma City would be able to match the offers, but if another team gives Harden the max contract that he wants, it seems unlikely the Thunder would match it.
If he does end up leaving, plenty of teams will be lined up to pay for his services. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, two teams who reportedly have high interest in bringing James onto their roster are the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks.
The Houston Rockets became famous this year for stealing players away. They signed Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to poison pill contracts that their respected former teams just couldn’t match. The back loaded offers were a loop hole that GM Daryl Morey abused in such an intelligent way. The Rockets needed a guy the fans would pack the building to see. They got that in Jeremy Lin. They also needed a guy who could fix their interior defense. They got that in Omer Asik.
James Harden is a great young player who is still just 23 years old. He has a lot of room to grow, which is scary for his opponent, but has teams like the Rockets salivating to bring his talents to Houston. Harden hasn’t started many games, but that will most likely change next season, and if it doesn’t, the next team to land his services will no doubt give him the starting shooting guard job.
James Harden playing next to Jeremy Lin is very intriguing. It could potentially become one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA. But should the Rockets go after a player with Harden’s skill-set? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player. But is he worth a max contract? Will Lin, Asik and Harden win you a championship? I don’t think so.
Next season will be Kevin Martin’s last year on his deal and it’s almost guaranteed it will be his last with the Rockets, unless he gets traded before the season starts. The Rockets drafted Jeremy Lamb with the 12th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. They should see what Lamb can do before they even think about handing out max contracts to boarder-line stars like Harden. Lamb showed a lot of potential in the NBA Summer League. I see a lot of star potential in him, and with his length, size, defense and scoring ability, he could become a much better player than Harden.
The Houston Rockets are always in the NBA rumors when it comes to trade talks and free agency. With Daryl Morey at the helm the possibilities are endless. But it’s the desperation and frustration that haunts Houston’s front office. Is James Harden the answer? I don’t think so. But maybe things change after the 2012-2013 season.