With the deadline now less then a week away for the 2009 draft class to reach agreements on extensions with their respective teams, the clock is now ticking.
One of the biggest names who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent if a deal is not reached, is reigning sixth man of the year James Harden. Both the Thunder and Harden have made it clear they would like to get a deal done, but giving Harden a max extension would put the Thunder over the salary cap. Something I am sure they are trying to avoid.
However, it seems the Thunder may have found a loophole.
Per Hoopsworld.com: “Harden and the Thunder seem like they are going to reach a deal. Sources close to the situation say there is such a desire by Harden to end the speculation that he may cave on his max contract demands.”
“What’s been said is that a heavily incentivized deal would be what gets it done, and that kind of deal could get Harden to max money if the Thunder continues to dominate in the West. The NBA counts ‘easy to achieve’ incentives against the cap, however, incentives that are deemed hard to achieve, like making the Conference Finals or being named an All-Star do not count against the cap. This could be the loophole that gets Harden signed, simply because of how good the Thunder have been in the West. A deal isn’t a deal until both sides sign it and get it approved by the league, but there appears to be a real desire on all sides to end the circus that Harden’s impending free agency is causing and it seems the Thunder and their ownership are willing to lock James up now.“
Heading into the season I thought the only way the Thunder could keep Harden was if he took a hometown discount, as he would be sure to demand max money on the open market.
It seems the incentive laced deal could be enough to get it done though, as it would get Harden more money upfront but also keep him motivated to improve his game.
After disappearing in the NBA Finals, Harden certainly has something to prove this year.