Where do the Thunder and Rockets go from here?
Irrespective of whether we believe he is truly worthy of it or not, it has surely always been known that it will take a maximum contract to lock up James Harden. If Eric Gordon can get the max on the open market, Harden certainly can. And it seems he now will. But not from the Thunder.
Reportedly, Oklahoma City went as high as $54 million in their offer to Harden. With a maximum salary of as-near-as-$60 million, the Thunder’s final offer left them a comparatively meager $6 million short of the maximum, $1.5 million per annum less to spend elsewhere on the roster should they yield and tender the maximum. That’s one less Lazar Hayward or Hasheem Thabeet type per season. That’s nothing, no hardship at all. And it’s therefore easy to find fault with Oklahoma City’s budgetary constraints, which had thus far allowed for spending as much as it took.