As expected, the infamous "max deal" has already been tossed around by ESPN's Tom Haberstroh when talking about the Oklahoma City Thunder's bearded one, James Harden. Harden is scheduled to be a restricted free agent before the start of the 2013-2014 season and could potentially be in position to break the bank.
Haberstroh had this to say about the potential free agent in a recent article:
"...but league sources say the Mavericks, located in the fifth-biggest TV market, and the Rockets, in the 10th biggest, are already interested in offering a monster deal to Harden."
If this new rumor is true, the Houston Rockets are fighting for position to land one of the NBA's young stars of the league. To add him to an already young roster could be the missing piece to a team that is looking for more star power to add to their roster.
The only real issue with James Harden that we question: Is he a product of his current teammates, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook? What happens when Harden has to take the reigns for himself?
The Sixth Man of the Year and Team U.S.A. Gold Medalist in 2012, Harden proved he can be a vital piece to a team's success. His minutes have increased since his rookie year and so too have his numbers accross the board. In 2012, Harden averaged 16.8 points , 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting 49% from the field. He showed flashes of being a game-changer, but he left something to be desired after a disappointing performance in the NBA Finals.
To invest a "max deal" in Harden could be a dangerous step for the Rockets franchise, because his production levels are at an unknown level and perhaps could be due to the players around him. At the same time, Harden would be considered one of the primary scorers here in Houston. He'd be the go-to guy from day one. But is that okay? We may need to see another year of Harden to gauge his potential productivity on his own.
The reality is this: If the team wants to take the step to the next level, they have to get difference makers on their roster. Harden has the makings to be one of the top players in the league, and at the age of 23, I think the Rockets would be wise to go all in on Harden and bring him to Houston. Harden would be a big step for this franchise, and in order to compete in the NBA, teams have to spend money. No question, Harden could be a prized target for the Rockets organization and a step the fan base could be on board with.