2. Sam Presti forced Harden’s hand
Perkins’ version of events is much different than what actually played out, which could possibly be attributed to amnesia on Perkins’ behalf. Okay maybe not, but he seems to remember a drastically different situation that what happened.
OKC GM Sam Presti tried to squeeze Harden, as he prioritized Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka over Harden, which was an awful idea at the time, as Harden was the reason the Thunder got past the San Antonio Spurs during the 2012 Western Conference Finals. By the time the Thunder attempted to negotiate with Harden, they had already determined Perkins and Ibaka were more important.
Not only that, Presti had decided that he wasn’t going to negotiate with Harden on a new contract, as he was expecting Harden to continue to put OKC above himself, which is a lofty expectation, especially considering how much of a factor Harden was in the Thunder even making it out of the Western Conference.
Presti tried to force Harden’s hand on the financial terms, as he approached Harden last, attempting to force him into taking the remaining money OKC had available. In fact, Presti didn’t even give Harden time to mull over the contract proposal.
James Harden is upset with Thunder officials. They gave him one hour to accept their final offer. He wanted more time: http://t.co/8rNpCUzx
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 6, 2012
It was reported that the Thunder offered Harden a four-year deal worth $56 million, which was roughly $4.5 million less than Harden was seeking. To put that into perspective, this amounted to $1.125 million per year less than what Harden wanted, which was a team-friendly deal even at the time.
Harden was only given an hour to accept the deal, and when he requested more time to mull it over, OKC GM Sam Presti gave him a call to notify him that he had been dealt to the Houston Rockets. With the biggest decision of Harden’s career on the line, he was fair for requesting more time. And with him having already proven his value and worth, he was valid in wanting more money, especially considering the sacrifice he had made by coming off the bench.
Presti had no desire to grant him that, as he dealt him to the Houston Rockets, without making a mere attempt to hear Harden out on negotiations. This blame fell on Presti’s shoulders, not Harden’s, as Harden was coming off the best true shooting percentage in NBA history at just 22 years-old, which is the type of generational talent worth paying the luxury tax for, even in a small market like OKC.
Perkins talks as if Harden left the Thunder in free agency, a la Kevin Durant, but the reality is that he was traded, and didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Next: No. 1