Here is a link to the Grantland article that I am going off of, a good read.
If you are like most Blazer fans around here, you want James Harden in Red and Black.
Here is what we know:
1. James Harden is a great player and one of the top 5 young SGs in the NBA.
2. Harden will be a Restricted FA after this season if he doesn't sign an extension with OKC.
3. OKC has a lot of money tied up in 3 other players already (Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka) and are hesitant to pay Harden a Max salary.
4. Harden will be paid a Max salary by somebody (unless he signs for less, but why?).
Here is what we don't know:
1. What OKC is going to do.
OKC is making the small market rally call, but instead of "we can't attract superstars" its we can't afford to pay all of our (super)stars. The point almost makes sense. The new luxury tax rules are very prohibitive to making a profit, especially in the less profitable markets. But giving up Harden would almost mean stepping down from a championship contender to a good playoff team that has a shot at the finals. Read the above article for more on this, moving on.
What it means for the Blazers:
First of all, there are a lot of teams that would want Harden, so don't get too excited. He would be a great fit on this squad, a cerebral type player who would be the first option, but can score in many ways and handle the ball. How do the Blazers get him? Either with a Max FA deal or by trade. The blazers could cut enough salary to have a Max slot this summer, but if OKC let Harden go to FA they will most likely match the Max deal, it doesn't make any sense to let him leave for nothing, and those guys in OKC seem pretty bright, so let's rule that route out. By trade then. Well if OKC is trading Harden before February they will have a lot of suitors. They will most likely want young, cheep assets and draft picks back. The blazers are light in this department compared to other teams. Outside of giving up Lillard (or Aldridge!) the blazers don't have much that is in the James Harden trade ballpark. (their 2013 draft pick is already involved in a trade, although protected, can't be involved in another) OKC is not taking scraps for a player like Harden. Even if they listen to offers for him they hold all the chips sense he is restricted. No a package of Elliot Williams, Luke Babbitt and Nolan Smith plus our 2014 pick is not getting a return phone call.
Conclusion. I know we can be an optimistic bunch here on the 'Edge, but the facts are pretty evident, James Harden will not be a Blazer. I am sorry, but we have Ammo!