James Harden likes being a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. A lot. If we take nothing else away from the recent discussion of his contract status, that much should be clear.
Of course, I want to live in a beachfront home in Malibu. Money often complicates what we want in life.
Harden was interviewed by Spanish sports site Marca.com (a story found by the fantastic Daily Thunder) and he once again waxes poetic… well, not exactly poetic but he’s pretty clear he likes playing in Oklahoma City and wants to stay when he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
“I don’t know. I can’t make that decision,” Harden told Marca.com (about staying with Thunder). “I only focus on playing. I want to keep playing with the Thunder. I feel like home and the team is special. My teammates are like my family. We can do big things. We’ll see what happens.”
Ideally Harden wants to stay in Oklahoma City. He also wants and will get a max contract extension (four years, $58 million). There appears to be no hometown discount.
Where it gets complicated is how that contract — along with max deals for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and a new four-year, $48 million (or more with bonuses) contract for Serge Ibaka — pushes the small market Thunder into the luxury tax area. Probably $7 million to $12 million into the tax, depending on how they fill out the roster.
While the Thunder could save money by using their amnesty on Kendrick Perkins, that seems unwise with Dwight Howard now in the conference.
So the question becomes, will the Thunder owners bite the bullet and pay the tax? I still think the answer is yes. But we will need to see it to fully believe it.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.