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As valuable as he may be off the bench, Taj Gibson hardly deserves max money at the moment.
The same can't be said for James Harden. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year made clear his value to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the court this season while opening eyes around the league as to his superstar potential.
After all, if the Bearded One could average 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 39 percent from three as a reserve, imagine what he might be able to do as a full-time starter.
Or so the thinking around the league probably goes at the moment.
To be sure, Harden didn't acquit himself well in the NBA Finals and wasn't exactly a force of nature with Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics.
But the Thunder are well aware of what's at stake with Harden. As GM Sam Presti told Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman:
“James is somebody we value. We think he's an important part to what we're trying to do with our team and we're hopeful that he'll be with us.
“By the same token, we've been very upfront and transparent with everybody that we have some inherent challenges that we face as an organization as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement. I know we'd love to have him here. I think James would like to be here as well. But at the end of the day ... you have to find a way to make it work for everybody.”
This isn't to suggest that James is necessarily a goner, but if he's going to stay, it'll take a commitment between himself and the team before the season starts.