THURSDAY, 1:51pm: Contrary to Perkins' "report," the Thunder and Harden aren't close to an extension agreement, according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard (via Twitter). The two sides are talking and Harden wants to stay in Oklahoma City, but he's also seeking a max contract, says Broussard.
WEDNESDAY, 5:10pm: The James Harden rumors have been heating up this week, from Thunder GM Sam Presti hinting that an extension will be difficult to a Marc Stein report suggesting the Mavericks and Rockets are among the teams hoping to get a chance to land Harden. The latest to weigh in on the All-Star guard's contract situation? Teammate Kendrick Perkins, as Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman tweets.
"We're getting close with James," Perkins said (Twitter link). "And we're getting close to keeping our unit together."
Perkins doesn't necessarily have any inside info on extension negotiations, and could just be expressing optimism about the Thunder's chances of retaining Harden. But it still sounds like welcome news for OKC fans that don't want to see the team's core broken up at all in the next year. As I outlined when I passed along Presti's comments yesterday, the Thunder's cap situation will make it tricky to give Harden a fair deal without heading well into luxury-tax territory.