We heard last night from Marc Stein of ESPN.com that James Harden's looming restricted free agency could become a distraction for the Thunder, and in that piece he says sources have maintained for weeks that the Rockets, Mavericks and Suns are all prepared to offer Harden a maximum-salary deal should he eschew an extension this month. Other reports have linked those teams to Harden recently, but it underscores the stakes of the situation, as the deadline for an extension is now less than two weeks away. We have news on another Western star up for an extension and notes from around the conference this afternoon.
- Stephen Curry told Fox Sports Radio he wanted to go back in Friday's preseason game after injuring his ankle, but Warriors coach Mark Jackson insisted he remain on the bench, asCSNNW.com documents. Curry said he'll be back by the opener, but if he doesn't play in either of the team's two remaining exhibitions, it remains to be seen whether it affects his negotiations for an extension.
- The Spurs have their fingerprints all over the revamped Magic, as John Denton of Magic.com details. "One of the things that the Spurs do really well is build synergy within their basketball operations department, opening up steady and transparent communication lines," Magic GM Rob Hennigan said. "They teach you to be humble and to not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. You could trust that everyone there was one the same page working toward a common goal."
- Jamal Crawford joined the Clippers on a four-year, $21.35MM deal this summer, and believes the team is a title contender, as Alex Kennedy writes on Sulia. "This would have to be the most talented team I’ve played on," the 12-year veteran said. "That’s no disrespect to any team I’ve played on in the past, but we’re 10 deep, and we may even be deeper than that if our young kids get an opportunity and continue to develop. This is the deepest team I’ve been on, by far. These are guys who aren’t worried about anything but winning. That’s all it’s about."
- Two former Timberwolves are looking for a fresh start with the Suns, as Derek Page of HoopsWorld examines Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson.