Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Harden recently rejected a four-year $52 million deal, according to league sources.
The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year has been holding out for a max contract, which would be around $60 million over four years. He and Thunder GM Sam Presti have been engaged in talks for several weeks.
Harden and other players from the 2009 draft class have to sign extensions by this Wednesday, or they will become restricted free agents on July 1, 2013.
Presti has a dilemma on his hands regarding Harden’s future and the long-term flexibility of the franchise. If he signs Harden for max money, most of the Thunder’s salary will be split amongst their core four: Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka just got extended in the ballpark of four years and $50 million.The OKC front office must be thinking they can get away the same deal for Harden.
On the other hand, if the Thunder decide to hold firm, the 23-year-old Harden holds the cards in these negotiations. As one of the most gifted offensive players in the game, he could easily get a max deal from another team on the market.
An NBA executive was quoted on the Harden situation in the Yahoo Sports report, saying: "You're asking a player to take less money and remain a non-starter. Harden can start and go make more money…That's a tough sell."
The ball is in the Thunder's court, but not for long.
Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow NBA news and commentary from him on Twitter @TheRealShiek