Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder can't agree to contract extension with James Harden, trade him

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year wanted to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the team wouldn't give him a max deal so he was traded to the Houston Rockets.

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6 Total Updates since September 14, 2012
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Sam Presti: 'We wanted to sign James Harden'

While the Oklahoma City Thunder ultimately decided to trade guard James Harden to the Houston Rockets, general manager Sam Presti told reporters that the team wanted to sign the 23-year-old to an extension.

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Harden headed to Houston

With one year remaining on James Harden's contract, the Oklahoma City have opted to trade him while his value is at its peak, rather than negotiating a deal or paying the luxury tax. He'll head to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and picks.

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Harden, OKC still working to get extension done

The Oklahoma City Thunder are still working on a contract extension to keep James Harden, last season's Sixth Man of the Year award winner, in Oklahoma City, according to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

According to the report, Harden turned down a prospective extension recently that would have paid him somewhere around $52 million. Harden and his agent are reportedly seeking a maximum extension of $60 million over four years. The Oklahoma City front office is reportedly trying to ink Harden to a contract filled with incentive clauses which could bring the value closer to his desired amount.

The deadline for Harden to sign a contract extension in Wednesday at midnight. If his agent and the Oklahoma City front office cannot come to a deal by then, he will become a restricted free agent next summer.

If he becomes a free agent, the 23-year-old Harden could command a maximum deal and would likely find interest from a number of teams.

Harden is about to enter his fourth season in the NBA after being drafted third overall by the Thunder out of Arizona State in 2009. His numbers have risen each season in the league and last year he averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game as the Thunder advanced to the NBA Finals.

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Thunder want to sign Harden for less than the max

The Oklahoma City Thunder and free-agent in waiting James Harden appear ready to begin the NBA regular season without resolving Harden's contract extension and future with the franchise.

With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka tying up much of the OKC's salary cap for the coming years, the Thunder are putting the new NBA collective bargaining agreement to the test by trying to fit Harden into the cap while still filling out the rest of the roster and minimizing luxury tax penalties.

A max contract of 4 years and $60 million is likely waiting for Harden from another team if the Thunder allow him to become a restricted free agent, but according to ESPN's Marc Stein the Thunder are trying to secure Harden without paying max money:

Harden, the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year last season, averaged 17 points, four assists and four rebounds off the bench for Oklahoma City.

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