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Report: James Harden nowhere near new deal with Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden durin

Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden during practice in preparation for game four of the NBA Finals June 18, 2012 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/GettyImages)

AFP/Getty Images

And the spin goes right round, baby, right round, like a record baby, right round round round round…..

Yesterday, Kendrick Perkins opined that once James Harden gets into Oklahoma City training camp the issue of his contract extension would work itself out because he was back with his family and wouldn’t want to leave. Some took that as Perkins having insight into the negotiations, when the reality was that was just Perkins saying what he thought would happen through his team-centric view.

But the people whose job it is to make sure that Harden gets paid — and gets paid the max — couldn’t let that stand. So now we have this leak via Chris Broussard of ESPN on twitter.

Despite what KPerk says OKC & JHarden not close to deal. Sides are talking. JH wants to stay but wants max. Let’s see if OKC blinks b4 10/31

This is not a rocket science negotiation, folks. The Thunder are trying to talk Harden into taking a little less money so they can save tax dollars, but he’s not buying it and wants a max deal (four years, $58 million). If the Thunder do not offer him that deal before the Oct. 31 deadline, he will be a restricted free agent next summer and some other team will come in and offer him a max deal. Then the Thunder will be able to match it or not (although those deals could have poison pills making it worse for Thunder). Harden wants to stay but he wants his money and the ball is ultimately in the Thunder’s court.

As I keep saying, the Thunder have known the price tag for Harden since before they inked Serge Ibaka’s new deal. They can pay it now or they can wait and pay it next summer if they want to keep him (which they do). They have known the luxury tax implications for a while. We’re going to get a lot of spin and people talking back and forth about it, but the mechanics are pretty straightforward. It’s just a matter of what decision the Thunder make and when.