James Harden and agent Rob Pelinka recently turned down a four-year extension offer from the Thunder worth $52MM in their quest for a max extension from the Thunder, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Pelinka and Thunder GM Sam Presti have been meeting in Oklahoma City the past to two days to try to hammer out a deal. Wojnarowski takes the continued negotiations as a sign there's figure between $52MM and the maximum, likely worth $60MM, that will get the extension done.
Wojnarowski hears the Thunder may be trying to get Harden to agree to incentive clauses that may sweeten the deal, as they did with Serge Ibaka's extension. Teams are already lining up to offer Harden a maximum deal in restricted free agency next summer if Oklahoma City can't get an extension done by Wednesday's deadline. If the Thunder don't sign him to an extension, sources tell Wojnarowski that they may explore trades for him sooner rather than later.
"You're asking a player to take less money and remain a non-starter," a league executive told Wojnarowski. "Harden can start and go make more money. …That's a tough sell."
The Thunder could be on the hook for a hefty luxury tax bill for years to come if they commit to Harden, after previously doling out long-term deals to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Ibaka. They could be more willing to pay the tax than they're letting on, Wojnarowski speculates, which could prompt the team to simply wait for the extension deadline to pass and match any offer sheet Harden signs next summer.