In the aftermath of James Harden's departure from the Thunder, we all wondered what it must have been like in Sam Presti's situation room, trying to hammer out a deal with the NBA's 6th Man of the Year. Adrian Wojnarowski was able to get some comments from Harden himself that sheds some light on the situation:
With the situation reaching the 9th hour, Woj reports that Harden had an hour to consider the Thunder's final offer:
"After everything we established – everything we had done – you give me an hour? This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt."
Would the additional time have helped?
"Who knows? Another day, who knows what another day would've done?"
Woj goes on to explain that the reason why the negotiations had to be expedited had more to do with Houston's position, not the Thunder's. Both Houston and OKC executives attest that the nature of the negotiation required that something be done by Saturday if Houston were to have enough time to process Harden's extension. The Rockets wanted it done by Friday, but Presti pressed for an additional chance to try and get Harden to consider, and arranged for one last ditch effort. What was Presti doing between Friday and Saturday?
SB Nation's Mike Prada speculates:
What was Presti doing between Friday and Saturday? While it may seem odd that he wasn't in touch with Harden, there are any number of things that he could have been doing. Perhaps he was meeting with owner Clay Bennett to decide whether to even offer Harden that last-ditch contract. Perhaps he was negotiating another first-round pick from Rockets GM Daryl Morey in a trade package. Perhaps he was communicating with Harden's agent rather than Harden directly. Point is, to assume Presti wasn't fully engaged in the process is being unfair to Presti.
I can see both sides of the equation. From Harden's standpoint, he saw the final one-hour ultimatum as a judgment on his value to the team. From the team's standpoint, when millions of dollars are in play, often you don't even get an hour to make the right call. Sometimes it is a 5 minute phone call. Sometimes you don't even get the privilege of making the decision yourself.
We as NBA fans certainly know that players hold fast to the phrase, "It's a business," but scenarios like this one show that business decisions always have consequences on both sides. James Harden the person appears to be a solid and mature guy, but he just experienced one of his first eye-opening moments about how the world works. It is painful, but fortunately for Harden his safety net comes lined with plenty of green.