Monday, September 17, 2012

NBA Notes: Can OKC extend Harden?

James Harden

The Sixers’ 2012-13 rotations are far from set after the team underwent a huge offseason makeover. Where does Lavoy Allen fit in after the additions of Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown and Arnett Moultrie? Dei Lynam has the answer (see story).

Here’s a look at some other news from around the league on Monday:

Can OKC keep Harden?
The Thunder have quickly become a powerhouse in the Western Conference since moving from Seattle to Oklahoma City, improving in each of the last four seasons in both winning percentage and postseason progress.

Naturally, the franchise would like to keep its core group of young players together, but that might not be totally possible according to’s David Aldridge.

After recently handing an extension to Serge Ibaka, the Thunder have secured Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Nick Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Ibaka for the long-term. But that could leave Sixth Man of the Year James Harden on the outside looking in.

To keep Harden, who could demand a maximum contract, the Thunder would have to go over the luxury tax, and that’s something the ownership has yet to do since its move to the NBA’s third-smallest market.

“James is somebody we value,” Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti told The Oklahoman last week. “We think he’s an important part to what we’re trying to do. “… By the same token, we’ve been very upfront and transparent with everybody that we have some inherent challenges that we face as an organization as a result of the new collective bargaining agreement.”

Rivers to C’s: Focus on Heat
In June, the Celtics came within one game of representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, and even though the already-old squad is another season more mature, they’ll enter 2012-13 with a chance to go far again.

So when the Lakers — the Celtics’ long-time rival — added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to instantly put themselves back into the fold in the West, the conversation naturally went the way of the two teams possibly meeting in the Finals. But that’s not what Boston coach Doc Rivers wants his players focused on, he told Boston sports columnist Bob Ryan, via the Celtics Blog.

“Honestly, I don’t care about the Lakers,” Rivers said. “I have my eye squarely on Miami. I come up to my players during the year … I bring up Miami every single day to them. I want them to hate them. I want them to beat them. That’s gotta be our focus.”

As ProBasketballTalk points out, Rivers quipped a few lines that could get Miami’s attention.

“I’m smart enough to know that if we get in a track meet with Miami, they’re probably going to win,” Rivers said. “But if we get in a thinking meet, we will win that game.”