James Harden is currently busy trying to do the whole gold medal thing. Which means the Thunder’s biggest offseason question marks have been placed on hold. Both Harden and Serge Ibaka are eligible for extensions, but with them playing basketball, those things aren’t priority right now.
After the dust settles in London, things will advance one way or another. And while a lot of people fret over Harden and Ibaka and the Thunder’s future cap situation, one person seems to be fairly certain there’s nothing to worry about: James Harden. As he told Sam Amick of SI.com:
“I’m pretty, a hundred percent, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be in Oklahoma City,” Harden said with a reported small stutter. “I’ll let my agent and Mr. Presti and [Thunder owner Clay] Bennett discuss all that, so I’ll let them handle that and stay out of it for right now and worry about the USA Olympics.”
Harden was then asked if the thought of being a featured player with a more prominent role was at all intriguing to him.
“I love winning,” he said. “We have some great guys over here, something special, something I don’t think any other team in the NBA has – young guys who got drafted basically together, year after year after year. We’ve got something special, so I’m focused on what we have and trying to win a championship with these guys.”
Amick notes he talked to Harden about this at Team USA’s July training camp in Las Vegas, meaning he said this before he told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that he’d consider playing for the Phoenix Suns if he reaches free agency.
But by the sounds of it, Harden has no intention to do that. Obviously a lot of that falls on what the Thunder offer because if it’s a max deal or even close to it, Harden is likely to sign on without thinking much about it.
At the same time, he’s hinted as possibly taking less money to remain with the Thunder. “This is something special here,” he said. “A dynasty is being built here. So we’re winning, we’re having fun and we’re brothers. The other stuff, you can’t buy it.”
As we all know, what happens with Harden impact Ibaka. And vice versa. But in order to keep both, you have to keep at least one and I’d presume that would begin with Harden. His importance to the team is undeniable, and that’s just not on the floor or off the bench. He balances the top of the roster and that’s an incredibly valuable thing to the structure of the team. Plus, he’s a 22-year-old Olympian that just won Sixth Man of the Year. So yeah, he can ball.
We’ll see what happens after London and there’s a chance to really get to work on this stuff. But one thing’s for certain: Harden’s pretty kinda sorta pretty much positive sure he’s not going anywhere.