Leonsis: Money didn’t foil Harden deal
James Harden is not a Washington Wizard.
Harden is a Houston Rocket, after a big offseason trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden plans to stay with the Rockets for a while after signing a five-year contract extension in October, shortly after the trade.
But The Washington Post reported this week Harden was nearly traded by the Thunder to the Wizards for a package of No. 3 overall draft pick Bradley Beal and energetic second-year forward Chris Singleton. That pair averages 17 points a game for Washington this season. Harden averages 24.8 points a game for Houston. And the Wizards are 3-17, while the Rockets are 11-11.
So why did the Wizards shoot down the deal? That’s where things get tricky.
The Post reported team owner Ted Leonsis was not willing to dip into the NBA’s increasingly punitive luxury tax, citing multiple people with knowledge of the deal.
Leonsis disagrees. The Wizards and Washington Capitals owner is a 21st century man, and as such he has a blog. He took to it Friday in a post called “Consider the Source” to explain his side:
I would like to debunk though a statement and notion that originated in The Washington Post that a potential trade would have put our team in the luxury tax and thus we “turned down” a deal because we were “unwilling to commit” financially. That is simply not true. First, we would not have gone into the luxury tax – that is simple math. Second, economics were not a factor.
I am not shy about making financial investments in our teams. Simply look at the history of the Capitals and see the progression of our payroll. Additionally, the Wizards used the amnesty provision this past offseason as a financial tool to reconfigure our team. It is public knowledge that we have taken on some of the most significant contracts in the NBA and NHL. We have a track record, and these are concrete examples. Our fans know we will invest in our teams.
Even if we posit Leonsis’ theory as true, it’s worth noting he never denies the trade rumor. He never mentions … [For more on Wizards' Ted Leonsis: Money didn't foil James Harden deal, click here.]