Will Oklahoma Thunder Players Make Sacrifices to Stay Together?
Now that the finals are over let’s hurry up and speculate about the future of this great young Oklahoma Thunder team. Some key players are eligible for extensions and two would probably command not only more money but more playing time elsewhere. Chief among them is SG James Harden who had a terrible finals series but has proven himself worthy of more than a 6th man role. The talk all season was that Harden would be a max contract candidate elsewhere since PG Russell Westbrook and SF Kevin Durant essentially have all the max contracts available on the team locked up and extending both Harden and Ibaka at full market value would put them WELL over the luxury tax.
After Harden bombed in the finals it felt like he was setting money on fire. But this is the NBA and that’s not quite how it works. My opinion? Harden is in the same market position as he was before he helped ruin three games in a row for the Thunder. Was that harsh?
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Eric Maynor, a very solid backup would play more if he went elsewhere. In fact, he could probably start assuming he recovers well from the ACL tear he suffered in January.
Maynor has been the most vocal about being willing to sacrifice in order to stay on a team that consistently wins. News Ok wrote:
Maynor on Saturday spoke about how he specifically is willing to sacrifice. A potential NBA starter, Maynor said he would gladly remain in a reserve role behind Westbrook to preserve what the Thunder has built.
“Of course I want to be a starter in this league,” Maynor said. “But at the same time, wherever I’m at I want to enjoy it while I’m playing basketball. Sometimes it’s not about that. Sometimes it’s, like I said, about that word sacrificing. That’s basically what I’m about. I just like to win and enjoy doing it.”
…Maynor said he believes his teammates share his selfless mentality.
“Yeah, I feel like guys got that mentality,” Maynor said. “I think the main thing is we all play basketball because we love to do it. So we’re trying to win. And I think this is a good spot to try to do that.”
Mayor has made around 1.5 million each year with the Thunder. According to the article he shares an agent with Serge Ibaka who is also due an extension.
Let me play mini-GM and Coach here. If I have to choose between keeping Harden and Ibaka I’d keep Ibaka. I say this because I’d love to see the Thunder get a big man who truly plays big (Perkins tries but once he gets rebounds he often seems unsure of what to do with the ball after that) which would allow Ibaka to focus even more on defending shots and also developing his outside game. I’d also move Wessy to shooting guard. We all know that the Thunder need more points in the post, but the latter idea regarding Wessy is probably controversial.
However, after seeing Game 4 and what Wessy was able to do, I feel like my experience as a fan is being limited by the nagging obligation Wessy has to facilitate getting others the ball. I’d like to see how things go with someone else directing traffic. I was hoping to get a taste of that with Fisher on the floor but mostly he adopted the Thunder’s style of dribble dribble shoot and didn’t direct much of anything in the half court something the Thunder desperately need if you ask me. I couldn’t even tell if who was PG and who was SG to be honest.
For Harden’s part, he’s also talking sacrifice:
Harden, however, said, for him, winning trumps dollars.
“This is something special here,” Harden said. “A dynasty could be, is being, built here. So we’re winning, we’re having fun and we’re brothers. The other stuff, you can’t buy it.”
Since I cover the NFL mostly I typically oppose players sacrificing money for the opportunity to win or do anything else. When you play football you need to chase dollars and cents to the day some team unceremoniously cuts you. But in the NBA my opinion is more flexible just because the salaries and guarantees are much higher.
So essentially I say they each of them should do whatever makes them feel comfortable. I have no opinion beyond that.