OKC's Harden confident deal will get done by Oct. 31 deadline
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
10/02/12 at 5:33 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - During the Oklahoma City Thunder's media event on Monday, guard James Harden - the 2011-12 NBA Sixth Man of the Year - responded to a volley of questions about his contract status.
If Harden and the team do not reach an agreement before the NBA's Oct. 31 negotiating deadline, he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season. All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are signed to long-term deals.
In August, power forward Serge Ibaka agreed to a new, four-year contract reportedly worth $48 million.
Harden expressed an expectation that his situation will be resolved before Oct. 31: "That's why I'm not too worried about it. I have confidence in my agent and the organization to get it done."
"We love James," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He has really added to his game every year. We want him to continue to work on the defensive end of the floor.
"He has an amazing ability to play-make for our team. He's a great 3-point shooter and a free-throw-line guy. But defense always has to be on the forefront with him."
Harden has suggested that he would accept less money to stay in OKC than he could make by signing with a different team.
"I think we've built a brotherhood here," Harden said. "A brotherhood that's hard to break. Other teams, they're just teammates. But we're really brothers. We hang out all the time. The fans. The whole organization. We're all on the same page - wanting to be great."
The Harden situation was addressed also by other Thunder players.
"You've got to leave it up to James' agent and the Thunder organization," center Kendrick Perkins said. "Obviously, everybody would love to say, 'Oh, yeah, we've got our team. James signed.' But it's not that easy. In a perfect world, it would be."
Said Durant: "Everything is going to work itself out for the best, I think. James is a key part to our team."
Before arriving at free agency, Westbrook signed a five-year, $80 million extension with the Thunder in January.
"James is going to make the best decision for him and his family," Westbrook said. "Sam (Thunder general manager Sam Presti) and those guys will probably take care of it."
Original Print Headline: Harden confident in Oct. 31 deal
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Russell Westbrook and James Harden (top) laugh while they wait to be interviewed during media day at the Thunder Event Center in north Oklahoma City on Monday. GARETT FISBECK / for the Tulsa World