James Harden Says OKC Thunder Didn’t Give Him Enough Time to Consider Final Offer

by November 06, 2012

According to new Rockets star forward James Harden, the OKC Thunder barely gave him any time to seriously consider their final offer ($54 million over 4 years), before jettisoning him off to Houston. Harden admits that he was hurt by how fast the Thunder moved him in the blockbuster trade that rocked the NBA. Per Yahoo! Sports: “After everything we established – everything we had done – you give me an hour?’ Harden said. ‘This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt.’ Asked if additional time might have caused him to accept a deal several million dollars short of the $60 million maximum contract Harden had long sought, he responded: ‘Who knows? Another day, who knows what another day would’ve done?’ Looking back a week later, Harden believes he likely had to leave his sixth-man role in Oklahoma City and become what Houston general manager Daryl Morey calls the Rockets’ ‘foundational player’ for the public to truly understand the depth of Harden’s abilities. ‘I was there with talented guys in Oklahoma City, some All-Star guys, and I would’ve been in the back seat there – which I was fine with – but I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to show how talented I really am,’ Harden said. ‘It’s a different opportunity for me here.’ Thunder and Rockets executives give the same explanation for the timing of the trade four days prior to the Oct. 31 deadline for contract extensions: Houston needed a deal done on that Saturday, because Rockets officials felt that was the bare minimum to assure they could get their eventual five-year, $80 million deal with Harden into place. Houston had been pressing hard to complete the trade on that Friday, but Thunder GM Sam Presti waited until Saturday to present his final offer with a 60-minute deadline to accept. Presti believed the Thunder would’ve lost leverage in potential trade packages if rivals weren’t sure they could keep Harden off the restricted free-agent market next summer. Oklahoma City traded Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and two first-round draft picks. For the Thunder, the trading of Harden was a financial decision.”