Harden deal shows business side to Taj
October, 28, 2012
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe James Harden trade was not lost on Taj Gibson, who also has until Wednesday to get an extension.DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Taj Gibson understands exactly what James Harden is going through.
The Bulls' fourth-year forward saw the Harden trade to Houston go down Saturday night and knew that his own fate would be decided one way or another soon. Gibson, like Harden, is up for a contract extension this season. If the Bulls and Gibson's camp, led by agent Mark Bartelstein, can't come to a deal by the Oct. 31 deadline, Gibson would become a restricted free agent at season's end. While the odds aren't high that the Bulls would deal Gibson even if they can't come to an agreement before the deadline, the option is still possible as evidenced by Harden's situation.
"I knew James since he was 14,15 playing high school out in California," Gibson said after Sunday's practice. "So to see his (evolution into) being a good player and see him go through these things, the same thing I'm going through, it's kind of mind blowing, but I'm happy for him. I know that know he can just focus on playing and trying to help the team win and that's the only thing I'm really focused on right now."
While the financial terms aren't the same, Harden was reportedly looking for a max extension while Gibson is likely looking for closer to $10 million per year, the Bulls' forward knows that this is a part of being an NBA player that he must deal with right now.
"It's rough," Gibson said. "It's the business part. I know he didn't really want to leave that team, but he got a new home in Houston and that's the business side of basketball."
While Gibson has continually tried to downplay the contract talks, it's clear that he is tired of answering questions about the process. He wants it to be over and he would love to get a deal done before Wednesday, although it seems negotiations will go right down to the wire.
"I'm getting tired of answering questions about it and people worrying about it," Gibson admitted. "I just want to get back to playing basketball, focus on the season, and helping this team win games."
Nazr Mohammed, a former teammate of Harden's in Oklahoma City, admitted that he was 'sad' his friend had to leave the Thunder.
"James is a friend of mine so it's sad to see him not in Oklahoma City, but this is a business," Mohammed said. "People want to think about the whole loyalty and franchises having loyalty to players and players having loyalty to franchises -- it doesn't exist. It's a business. The business has to do what's best for them, and the player has to do what's best for them.
"You hope that both of them are on the same page and you can come together and it's best for both, but it is what it is. I'm sad to see him not with those guys because I love those guys, I wanted to see those guys together a long time. But I'm with James too as far as he's trying to do what's best for him and his family and I never question what a guy's trying to do for him and his family."
Mohammed also wanted to remind fans that they shouldn't always believe what they hear as far as negotiations go.
"The last thing is we all hear about what might have been offered and what might have been turned down, you don't know," he continued. "No one really knows but James and Oklahoma City GM Sam (Presti) and the people in that room because you're not there. You can speculate all you want, but we don't know exactly ... until Sam says 'We offered him this' and James says 'I wanted this,' it's all speculation."
Mohammed, who spent the last couple years playing in Oklahoma City, admitted that it was a special experience for him playing alongside guys like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Harden.
"It was fun," he said. "It was a lot of fun. When you get a group of 22 and 23 year olds who understand the league and play hard and sacrifice on the court and are like brothers off the court, hang out with each other, it was a great experience and I know James is going to miss it. I know they're going to miss James but it's part of the business. It's not the last time you're going to see it and it's not the first (time)."
Mohammed, who is entering his 15th season in the league, doesn't buy into the theory that major market teams have a major advantage over so called "smaller market" teams like the Thunder.
"Not really," he said. "You guys give us a little bit too much credit. The superstars, they probably think more so of markets and where can I get my name at, but most other guys, we just want to go out there and make as much as you can for your family and get a chance to play.
"Sometimes most of those guys think about playing more than the money sometimes. No one's thinking of big market, small market. I've had success in both. San Antonio was unbelievable, it was a smaller market. I played in New York, it was a big market and I enjoyed it and played well there so we just want to go with the right situation and make as much as you can and be happy."