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With doubt building as the deadline for an extension looms, one person is extremely confident his future in Oklahoma City is assured: James Harden.
At the Thunder’s annual media day Monday, Harden was very straightforward answering questions about the uncertainty surrounding him. The clock is ticking, and he knows it. Thirty days until the deadline, until Harden becomes a restricted free agent. Does he think this thing really will get done by Oct. 31?
“Yeah. Sure,” he said in a very matter-of-fact tone. “That’s why I’m not too worried about it. Not at all.”
Harden’s said it multiple times previously that he wants to stay with the Thunder, but of course that begs the question: If that’s the case, then why isn’t it done?
“That’s up to my agent and Sam [Presti],” Harden said. “I let them deal with that contract situation. Right now my focus is basketball.”
That was Harden’s message, more than once, as he was asked repeatedly about his future with the Thunder. He’s leaving it all up to his agent and Presti. But what about the talk of him taking less to stay with the team? Talk he started himself following OKC’s playoff exit?
Is Harden still willing to sacrifice to stay with the Thunder?
“Oh yeah, yeah. Sacrifice,” Harden said. “I think everybody on this team has sacrificed in their own way just for the better of the team. I think that’s why we’re so close. Like I said, I think everything will work itself out eventually.”
That sacrifice of course would mean taking less with an extension and avoiding restricted free agency where Harden would almost certainly be offered a max. Something reportedly, Harden has declared he wanted. But he says that’s not the case.
No, no,” Harden said when asked if he only wants the max. “Like I said, I’m not really worried about that. I’m not focused on it. I’ll let my agent and Sam figure out all those numbers and everything like that. I’m just focused on hooping, hooping and bettering myself coming off that Sixth Man and bettering myself as a basketball player.”
Why is he so confident about it when it seems like an extension is more unlikely than likely, especially given the luxury tax problems that come with being a small market like the Thunder? How can he seem so sure?
“‘Cause I know. I know,” Harden said. “I have confidence in my agent and the organization to get it done. They know how important it is. I’m sure it will be done.”