The Thunder want to re-sign James Harden, to keep him paired with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. But those three have already gotten their new contracts.
James Harden wants to stay with Durant and the Thunder, to chase titles with them in Oklahoma City. But he’s a max player getting his first big contract and there is not going to be a hometown discount for the Thunder.
Which means to keep him the Thunder owners — with a team in one of the smallest NBA market — would have to pay the luxury tax. They have said they would, but how much are they willing to pay?
“James is somebody we value,” Presti said Monday afternoon. “We think he’s an important part to what we’re trying to do with our team and we’re hopeful that he’ll be with us…
“By the same token, we’ve been very upfront and transparent with everybody that we have some inherent challenges that we face as an organization as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement,” the Thunder general manager continued. “I know we’d love to have him here. I think James would like to be here as well. But at the end of the day … you have to find a way to make it work for everybody.”
We will see how this plays out. Maybe the two sides reach a deal on an extension before the Oct. 31 deadline, but if Harden is giving no hometown discount they may not. Then Harden becomes a restricted free agent — other teams can make offers but the Thunder can match. In a world where Brook Lopez is a max player and Ibaka gets $12.5 million a year, Harden is a max player and some other team will make that four-year, $58 million offer to him.
Then it will be up to Presti and ownership to match it or let him go. At that point there will be no qualifiers, the choice is a binary yes or no.
Lonzo Ball bypasses open layup for no-look backward bounce pass, leaves Luke Walton staring into abyss (video)
Lonzo Ball missed a layup early last night. That might have made him overthink later, when he was ahead of the pack on another fastbreak. Instead of shooting the open layup, Ball bounced the ball behind him without looking, leading to a turnover and open Heat 3-pointer.
On the bright side for the Lakers, they still beat Miami.
On the bright side for us, we got this great Luke Walton reaction GIF:
LeBron James says he was referring to only arena, not consideration of signing with Knicks
LeBron James said in reference to his "here or the Garden" comment that no other venue could have held this final duel between LeBron and Wade other than those two venues. (Not that he was thinking of signing with the #Knicks)
This was always the most likely explanation. The arenas in Los Angeles in New York are the NBA’s biggest stages, and LeBron has repeatedly stated his affection for Madison Square Garden. He didn’t have to think through all the implications to say those were the only appropriate locations.
Ultimately, I believe the given explanation that this was just about the arena’s allure and nothing more. An offhand remark needn’t completely follow the logic that either LeBron or Wade must play for the Knicks for them to meet at Madison Square Garden. But I’m not completely sold this wasn’t a passive-aggressive dig at the Knicks.
Kings player after beating Bulls: ‘Uh-oh, another 2 1/2-hour practice for them tomorrow’
Including when Wade thanked LeBron for seeing that their last game was played at Staples Center, one of the legendary venues of the league. But it was LeBron’s response that turned heads:
“It was either here or The Garden. That’s it.”
Did the Knicks actually have a shot at LeBron last summer?
It doesn’t seem that way, considering LeBron made his decision to go to Los Angeles within 24 hours of the official start of free agency. There was no meeting with the Knicks, no serious contact in any way.
What LeBron was referring to (I think) was having their final game in one of the two brightest spotlights, one of the two most legendary venues in the NBA. Madison Square Garden and Staples Center have a vibe before Knicks and Lakers games that just doesn’t exist anywhere else — even when their teams are bad the venues are special and guys raise their games. It’s a combination of the markets, the big fan bases, and the history of the franchises, and the buildings (Shaq and Kobe basically built Staples Center). Much like a baseball game at Yankee Stadium/Fenway Park/Wrigley Field, there’s just something special about it that’s hard to quantify. It’s just different there.
That’s why the final game for LeBron and Wade had to be in Los Angeles or New York.
But Knicks fans, go ahead and dream of what might have been.