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Report: James Harden nowhere near new deal with Thunder

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And the spin goes right round, baby, right round, like a record baby, right round round round round…..

Yesterday, Kendrick Perkins opined that once James Harden gets into Oklahoma City training camp the issue of his contract extension would work itself out because he was back with his family and wouldn’t want to leave. Some took that as Perkins having insight into the negotiations, when the reality was that was just Perkins saying what he thought would happen through his team-centric view.

But the people whose job it is to make sure that Harden gets paid — and gets paid the max — couldn’t let that stand. So now we have this leak via Chris Broussard of ESPN on twitter.

Despite what KPerk says OKC & JHarden not close to deal. Sides are talking. JH wants to stay but wants max. Let’s see if OKC blinks b4 10/31

This is not a rocket science negotiation, folks. The Thunder are trying to talk Harden into taking a little less money so they can save tax dollars, but he’s not buying it and wants a max deal (four years, $58 million). If the Thunder do not offer him that deal before the Oct. 31 deadline, he will be a restricted free agent next summer and some other team will come in and offer him a max deal. Then the Thunder will be able to match it or not (although those deals could have poison pills making it worse for Thunder). Harden wants to stay but he wants his money and the ball is ultimately in the Thunder’s court.

As I keep saying, the Thunder have known the price tag for Harden since before they inked Serge Ibaka’s new deal. They can pay it now or they can wait and pay it next summer if they want to keep him (which they do). They have known the luxury tax implications for a while. We’re going to get a lot of spin and people talking back and forth about it, but the mechanics are pretty straightforward. It’s just a matter of what decision the Thunder make and when.

Lou Williams hits halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.

And if this headline looks familiar, it is.

LeBron James, Cavaliers do water-bottle challenge on bench during blowout win over Knicks (video)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson entertain themselves by flipping a water bottle trying to get it to land on it's flat bottom during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 126-94, and most starters left the game for the bench at the end of the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!

No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.