Washington Wizards Reportedly Turned Down a Trade for James Harden

According to the Washington Post, the OKC Thunder engaged in trade talks with the Washington Wizards over the summer. But Wizards owner Ted Leonsis did not want to shell out a max contract for James Harden, who eventually ended up in Houston: “The Washington Wizards turned down a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for James Harden this summer because team owner Ted Leonsis was unwilling to commit to what would have been a roughly $80 million, five-year contract for the high-scoring player, according to multiple people with knowledge of the proposed deal. The Wizards would have sent rookie guard Bradley Beal and second-year forward Chris Singleton to the Thunder in return for Harden, winner of the NBA’s sixth-man award with Oklahoma City last season, according to these individuals, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the proposal. The Thunder traded Harden to the Houston Rockets in October. The Rockets, who play the Wizards in Houston Wednesday, gave Harden, who is having an all-star caliber season averaging nearly 25 points per game, the large contract he had been seeking. […] The Wizards would have had one of the more dynamic young back courts in the NBA, with the 22-year-old John Wall and the 23-year-old Harden. Harden also could have helped the Wizards better withstand the absence of Wall, who remains sidelined with a stress injury in his left knee, which was diagnosed in late September. Oklahoma City traded Harden because it risked a stiff luxury tax bill once the penalties of the new collective bargaining agreement take hold in the 2013-14 season. At the time the trade was discussed, the Wizards already had committed more than $33 million in salary this year after acquiring three veteran players — Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza — in an effort to bring stability to a young roster. The Wizards also set aside money for the summer of 2014, when Wall, a former No. 1 pick, Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford and Trevor Booker will become restricted free agents. Several big name talents — LeBron James, Rudy Gay, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, among others — also could enter the open market. If the Wizards had traded for Harden, his $5.8 million salary this season would not have changed the team’s payroll much. But with the maximum deal Harden signed with Houston, his salary will jump to $13.7 million next season, when the Wizards would be committing almost $68 million in salary for just 10 players.”