Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
James Harden said he was "hurt" that the Thunder only gave him an hour to accept their last-ditch contract extension. His reaction is understandable, but there's not much Sam Presti could have done about that.
James Harden saw his NBA career uprooted with an out-of-nowhere trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets, and while he's mostly moved on, he still is a little upset with how things went down. Harden told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski that he's upset that Thunder general manager Sam Presti gave him only an hour to accept a four-year, $54 million contract extension before dealing him to the Rockets.
"After everything we established - everything we had done - you give me an hour?" Harden told Yahoo! Sports on Monday afternoon. "This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt."
Harden only got an hour because the Rockets insisted that the deal be done before Saturday so that they could have enough time to present Harden with a max contract offer, according to Wojnarowski. They actually wanted the Thunder to move on Friday, but Presti waited until Saturday to pull the trigger. That's when Harden heard about the last-ditch contract, and an hour later, that's when he was traded.
What was Presti doing between Friday and Saturday? While it may seem odd that he wasn't in touch with Harden, there are any number of things that he could have been doing. Perhaps he was meeting with owner Clay Bennett to decide whether to even offer Harden that last-ditch contract. Perhaps he was negotiating another first-round pick from Rockets GM Daryl Morey in a trade package. Perhaps he was communicating with Harden's agent rather than Harden directly. Point is, to assume Presti wasn't fully engaged in the process is being unfair to Presti.
Of course, Harden's gripe is certainly understandable too. To be put in that kind of position with that little time to make up your mind is hard for anyone. He has reason to be upset about how things went down even though he's now moved on to Houston. I would never begrudge an athlete for being honest about his emotions when we're talking about several million dollars on the line.
But I think we can chalk this up to unfortunate circumstances rather than any sort of incompetence on anyone's part. Save for not agreeing to the trade, it's hard to see how the Thunder could have handled the situation differently.