June 2, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball during a playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Thunder defeated the Spurs 109-103 Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE

Harden closer to becoming a Sun?

There has been rumors for a while now that James Harden may end up in the valley of the Suns and over the past couple days that rumor have inched closer to reality. The Thunder inked the block machine Serge Ibaka to a 4 year 48 million dollar extension which puts the Thunder at about 67 million dollar in payroll for the 2012-2013 season; 3 million away from the luxury tax line.

In the NBA it’s very rare that small market teams are willing to go over the luxury tax line due to the limited revenue income that the big markets like L.A, New York or Miami has more of which ultimately makes up for the luxury tax they have to pay. For example, the San Antonio Spurs couple seasons ago went over the tax line to acquire Richard Jefferson and even though the Spurs are a top team in the west year in and year out, Spurs owner Peter Holt actually lost money because of the lack of revenue income to compensate for the luxury tax the Spurs had to pay.

This leads us here, if the Thunder does reach a deal with Harden similar to that of Ibaka’s that means next season the Thunders will owe Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden and Kendrick Perkins roughly 66 million dollars; that’s a lot of money paid to 5 players. That being stated, the Thunder still has their amnesty option which they can use on Perkins to save some money but they would be leaving themselves more vulnerable in the paint.

The Thunder at this point if they fail to reach an extension with Harden by the October 31st deadline then it’s very likely that Harden becomes trade bait. The Thunder has an advantage at this point though because Harden is going to be a restricted free agent this summer which means the Thunder can match any offer for Harden, or they can do a sign-and-trade to get something in return.

Here’s where the Suns come in, the Suns has the advantage to get Harden over most teams right now for a several reasons. First being that Harden’s mother lives in the valley, two being that Harden’s brother is currently playing at ASU, third being Harden spent two years at ASU, fourth being Harden on paper said Phoenix is his second favorite place “Comfort Wise” And that he’d be open to playing for the Suns. The Suns also have many draft picks to throw at Oklahoma City, the Suns also has cap space to take in Harden without having to send a big contract back.

It’s tough to imagine someone of Harden’s talent would be complacent with being the 3rd option for an extend part of his career. Granted he did go on paper and that would be okay with him but let’s face it like Joe Johnson, Harden would rather be a star else where rather than a 3rd wheel; even if that team is contending.

Harden is already considered a top 5 shooting guard in the league, he won 6th man of the year last season and has been improving every year since he’s been in the league. He’s also only 23 years old and at this point the sky is the limit for him. The Sun has officially set now that Steve Nash is gone but if the Suns somehow manage to bring in Harden, the Sun may rise once again in the valley.

Tags: James Harden Oklahoma City Thunder Phoenix Suns

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.paulsen.186 Kyle Paulsen

    kendal marshal and marcin gortat or micheal beasly for james harden and kendrick perkins that is what i would offer for harden because they need a willing to pass player even if he is off the bench they could move westbrook to sg every once in awhile and beasly is a good fit because beasly and perry jones because both young and could improve defence gaurding kd if gortat he would help defence but wont be as good having offence from nash to westbrook

    • Matthew

      I doubt OKC would take Marshall and Gortat in exchange for Harden and Perkins, although that would be a steal for the Suns. If OKC does deal Harden it’ll probably for a another shooter which OKC would look to replace Harden so I’d assume they’d want a player in return to replace Harden’s shooting, they’d also want a extra prospect with potential, and probably 2 or maybe even 3 first round picks. Keep in mind when the Suns dealt Joe Johnson to Atlanta back in 2004 they got back Boris Diaw, and 2 lottery picks.

  • Pablo

    Here is the only way the Suns get into the thick of this 5 team league we are currently in. I say you go after Andrew Bynum for a max contract. Get him back to west coast with a chip on shoulder to go back at Lakers. Then try to get Harden in a sign and trade for Gortat and Dudley and 2 #1 picks.

    • Matthew

      @e8c2024fa64dc50da4abc7c34f216487:disqus The NBA has been pretty much a 5 team league for the past 30 years..Yes you do need at least 2 stars to win in this league but I don’t think Bynum would fit well with the Suns, not to mention his attitude which isn’t welcomed at all by any of the Suns staff. I’ve said this before, the Suns has to lose so that they can find a star in the draft, because most stars right now are locked up for years to come or are old and heading into the twlight of their years in the NBA.