I was sitting with @VerizonAl at a Cavaliers game a few months ago when we first started talking about this James Harden to Cleveland idea. Harden will be a Restricted Free Agent after this upcoming season, and he will obviously command major dollars. The Thunder will not be able to pay Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, AND James Harden when both Ibaka and Harden’s rookie deals come due at the end of next year. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers will be way under the salary cap as that 2013 Free Agency Period begins. Our conclusion, why not overpay for James Harden in 2013 and team him up in a back-court with Kyrie Irving?
There’s a lot that can happen between now and then, I understand that. I also realize that James Harden to Cleveland in 2013 is more of a hypothetical dream type scenario right now than it is an actual front office strategy I am suggesting the Cavaliers prepare to execute. There’s probably a few other things like make four Draft picks on June 28th they need to be worrying about first. I do think the Cavs will have a ton of money to spend as they enter Free Agency that year though, and I also expect they could be one of a select number of teams who could actually afford Harden at that point. I think you could also still offer Kyrie Irving a max deal, paying him and Harden at the same time, when Kyrie’s rookie deal expires in 2016. As I said though, there is certainly a lot that can happen from now until then.
For the moment, I’m just thinking about it. I continued to think about it last night too, as I watched James Harden do this:
Best shot I’ve seen all postseason by far. Completely nasty move, especially considering time and circumstance, well beyond the fact that he dribbled out the shot clock himself before firing. Russell Westbrook and KEVIN DURANT were standing nearby as possible options and that never crossed Harden’s mind. No need, he knew he had it. If James Harden misses it though, there might’ve been a couple people upset with the fact that KD didn’t touch it. But he made that shot because he knew he would, so it doesn’t matter.
Heading into the 2013/14 season, the Thunder will be paying Kevin Durant $18.8M. Russell Westbrook just signed a 5-year $80M extension this past January. Oklahoma City is even scheduled to pay Kendrick Perkins $8.5M that year. If I’m Serge Ibaka’s agent, I’m probably starting his contract talks by saying: ‘Umm…we want $10M more than Kendrick Perkins, I think we can all agree that’s fair.’ Ibaka, also a RFA that year, has a qualifying offer at $3.3M. My thought is Serge will end up getting somewhere between $8 and $10M per season, and OKC figures out a way to keep him. I expect Harden to get more. That, combined with Ibaka’s unique skill-set in comparison to Durant and Westbrook, will be why he stays in OKC over Harden.
Kyrie Irving will be making $5.9M during the 2013/14 campaign. He will be under a team option that following season, and become a RFA prior to the 2015/16 season. Same for Tristan Thompson with regards to years left on his deal, and he’ll be making $4.3M. Anderson Varejao will still be under contract for one more year himself prior to the 2013/14 season, schedule to make $9.1M. Whoever the Cavaliers select this year in the First Round will be heading into their second season[s] still on their rookie deals.
Kyrie Irving at the 1. James Harden at the 2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the 3. Tristan Thompson at the 4. Anderson Varjeao at the 5. Alonzo Gee and whoever the Cavaliers take at 24 on June 28th coming off the bench.
That line-up works for me. Maybe it’s possible too, or maybe I’m just dreaming.