LyricalRico wrote:verbal8 wrote:Dat2U wrote:I just don't see James Harden as a realistic option. I don't think there's anyway OKC lets him go considering how well he fits alongside Westbrook. Harden is probably a little less realistic than Anderson or Batum.
Yeah I don't see Harden being available.
Well, there's still a salary cap for them to worry about. Using "Gary Braun math", even if OKC declines the options on all their guys who have rookie contracts (Aldrich, Jackson, Heyward), they will still have almost $50M committed to these 5 guys:
http://www.shamsports.com/content/pages ... hunder.jsp
(The link doesn't show Westbrook's new contract, but he'll be in the second year of a max extension so I'm assuming the same value as the second year of Durant's deal.)
Considering that Harden/Ibaka/Maynor will all be free agents at the same time, I don't think anything is guaranteed. Sure, they can exceed the cap to re-sign them. But even if the cap goes up a bit, they still will likely have only something like $22-23M in room before hitting the luxury tax. Assuming they let Maynor walk, that still isn't enough room to max out both Harden and Ibaka without paying the tax. And that doesn't even account for them having to still field a complete team.
Which will they do: Lock up a starting quality big man and fill out the rest of the roster without paying the luxury tax? Or max out a 6th man shooting guard and create a hole in their frontcourt in the process? Based on that, unless they do something in the coming offseason or at the trade deadline to change their roster/cap situation, I think Harden will absolutely be in play.
Someone also brought up whether or not Harden wants to make a name for himself as a starter instead of being a 6th man on "Durant and Westbrook's team". I wouldn't minimize that factor. He may end up wanting to leave, and forcing some sort of sign-and-trade.
I basically told Dat this last night and he still didn't see it. Their owner is not going to be willing to pay the luxury tax hit that is coming in the next 2 years, so they're going to choose between Ibaka and Harden, and my guess is they will go with the big. They're out West, they have to face the Bynums, Griffins of the world and they're gonna need all the bigs they can get. If Harden is a product of playing alongside Westbrook and Durant, then they can find someone in free agency who is cheaper and plug him in there.
I think they should have traded Westbrook for Rondo, Rondo is cheaper, better playmaker, and they probably would have had enough wiggle room to keep Ibaka and Harden long term.