The Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden still have not worked out a new contract, which could eventually leave their star guard on the market. Harden has stated that he wants a maximum contract from the Thunder, but they are toeing the line of the luxury tax.
It looks almost inevitable at this point that if negotiations stay the way they have been -- Harden wanting max money, the Thunder being unable to afford it -- he will hit the open market in 2013.
If he does leave Oklahoma City, he's sure to have plenty of suitors. The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets have both reportedly stated that they would be ready with max contracts of their own for the 23-year old, according to a tweet by ESPN's Marc Stein:
I know at least two teams near OKC (Houston & Dallas) that are huge Harden fans and will have cap space to sign him to loaded offer sheet— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) September 12, 2012
Oct. 31 is the deadline for the Thunder to get a deal done with Harden. If they do not work one out by that point, other teams will be allowed to offer him deals come the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season. Oklahoma City will be able to match those deals, but if they are the max contracts that Harden expects it seems unlikely that they would take the offer.