After James Harden was traded to the Rockets by the Thunder a week and a half ago, we heard that the Thunder had made one final extension offer to Harden, giving him an hour to make a decision. Harden requested an extra couple days to consider the offer, but GM Sam Presti, who wanted to give the Rockets a chance to negotiate their own extension with Harden prior to last Wednesday's deadline, stuck to his deadline and sent the Sixth Man of the Year to Houston.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, that ultimatum didn't sit well with Harden, who was upset that Oklahoma City didn't give him more than 60 minutes to make the career-altering decision.
"After everything we established – everything we had done – you give me an hour?" Harden told Wojnarowski. "This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt."
The Thunder's final offer to Harden was a four-year deal worth $54MM, according to Wojnarowski. Various outlets have reported that amount differently, anywhere from $53MM to $56MM, but by all accounts, it was a few million below the maximum salary Oklahoma City could have offered. Asked if he would have accepted that offer if he'd had more time, Harden replied, "Who knows? Another day, who knows what another day would've done?"
While Harden's exit from Oklahoma City didn't play out in ideal fashion, the 23-year-old is looking to make the most of his opportunity in Houston. Not only did he receive a five-year, maximum-salary extension from the Rockets, but he's also been given the chance to be the team's go-to player, a role he's thrived in so far, as Tom Haberstroh writes in an Insider piece for ESPN.com.
"I was there with talented guys in Oklahoma City, some All-Star guys, and I would've been in the back seat there – which I was fine with – but I wouldn't have gotten the chance to show how talented I really am," Harden said. "It's a different opportunity for me here."