Four years, $55 million. Take it, or be traded.
Coming off a season where he won Sixth Man of the Year and gold at the 2012 Olympics, he wanted the $60 million max. So he said no. And the Thunder traded him to the Rockets, who immediately gave him a five-year, $80 million extension.
In an interview with ESPN, Harden was asked about that day where he had to decide.
“I felt like I already made a sacrifice coming off the bench and doing whatever it takes to help the team, and they weren’t willing to help me,” Harden said.
The last thing Harden did with the Thunder was lose in five games to the Heat in the NBA Finals, a painful experience, especially with how abruptly it ended what appeared to be one of the most dynamic young cores the NBA has ever seen. The appearance was this team was set up to be a dynasty.
Asked if money wasn't a factor, if he'd still be in Oklahoma City, Harden was candid.
"Definitely," he said. "Definitely. No question."
Actually, I may be burying the lede here. Because Harden also said that he wouldn't shave his beard for $5 million, only sort of considering it at $10 million. You see, James Harden listens to money, but only lots and lots of it.