1. OKC’s core didn’t sacrifice either
It’s convenient for Perkins to single out Harden, as if he’s the only professional athlete who wants to get paid their fair value and worth, but that’s far from the truth, across all sports leagues. James Harden has that same right, as he has a rags-to-riches story of his own, as he was raised by a single mother in Compton, which is far from an affluent area.
This was covered in his E:60 feature on ESPN, which I’d recommend watching if you haven’t seen it yet.
If OKC wasn’t going to pay Harden his desired number or give him the opportunity to even start, they did the right thing by letting him spread his wings, so he could do those things with the Houston Rockets.
So when you think of the phrase “James didn’t sacrifice”, who did he owe more: his family or an organization that didn’t value him? And by the way, the Thunder’s core didn’t “sacrifice” either, which is also why Perkins was wrong.
Durant and Westbrook both took max contracts (rightfully so), and Serge Ibaka signed an extension that paid him $12.3 million annually. For as much as Perkins had to say about everyone sacrificing, he cashed in on a extension worth roughly $36 million, which ultimately prevented the Thunder from giving Harden the deal he wanted and deserved.
If there was anyone out of that bunch that should’ve took less to keep Harden in OKC, it was definitely Perkins, as he had the least production out of the trio. Perkins states that he had an offer of $55 million with the Golden State Warriors, but turned it down.
If he had that deal on the table and turned it down, it’s possible he rejected it because the Thunder were simply a better team at the time, and presented him with the best opportunity at winning a ring, in part because of Harden’s presence. But that’s a big if.
It’s asinine that Durant, Westbrook, Perkins, and Ibaka were all allowed to get paid the amount of money they wanted, but Presti (and apparently Perkins now) expected Harden to not be able to do the same. Sacrificing would’ve been KD/Russ taking less than max deals in order to get Harden the additional $4.5 million he was pursuing.
And this is not to say Russ/KD didn’t deserve max deals, because they definitely did (as did Harden), but Perkins says they “sacrificed” and took less, and that’s simply not the case.
Again, it’s quite interesting that Perkins was the one talking about how Harden should’ve sacrificed, because if Perkins would’ve taken his own advice, it’s possible Harden would’ve never became a member of the Houston Rockets. Fortunately for Rockets fans, Perkins didn’t.