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.
Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams
There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.
“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”
I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.
That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.
I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.
Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season with torn left meniscus
Even with the short offseason, Jackson should be ready to play at the start of next season.
This is a serious blow to the Grizzlies, who are 0-3 in the bubble and now just lost their best player through those three games. He has been the best source of offense for the Grizzlies in the bubble, feasting on defenders who cannot match his speed.
Jackson, a 6’11” big out of Michigan State, averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game this season, shooting 39.4% from three. He’s still developing, but he looks like a classic modern big — can protect the rim, can post up or make plays from the elbow, and can shoot the three — who is developing a strong chemistry with Ja Morant. They could be the cornerstones of the Grizzlies’ future.
First, Jackson has to get healthy.
Watch Devin Booker drain turnaround game-winner to beat Clippers
Ivica Zubac opened the door for Booker to win it. The Suns had the ball with 31 seconds to go and the Clippers — Kawhi Leonard in particular — defended it well, forcing Ricky Rubio into a difficult, high-arcing shot he missed. Zubac did a good job grabbing the rebound, but then he hurried the outlet pass and Mikal Bridges tipped it, Deandre Ayton grabbed it, and the Suns got to reset and take one more shot.
Devin Booker took the final shot, a game-winner. That man is a problem.
Obviously, Milwaukee is way better than Brooklyn overall. But the Bucks didn’t have much incentive to chase a victory. They’ve already all but clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Starters Brook Lopez and Wesley Matthews didn’t play. Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton didn’t play in the second half.
That created an opening for the Nets, who blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead then rallied to win.
What they lacked in talent, both teams made up for in effort – and feistiness.
Antetokounmpo was restrained from Brooklyn big Donta Hall after getting knocked down during a second-quarter tussle for a rebound: