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James Harden: 'I want to keep playing with the Thunder'

By Royce Young | NBA writer

As the clock ticks to Oct. 31, the last day for extensions for the class of 2009, James Harden has made his position perfectly clear.

He wants to stay in Oklahoma City.

“I don't know. I can't make that decision,” Harden told Marca.com. “I only focus on playing. I want to keep playing with the Thunder. I feel like home and the team is special. My teammates are like my family. We can do big things. We'll see what happens.”

Things appeared to become a tad cloudy for Harden and his future with the Thunder when the team locked up Serge Ibaka to a four-year, $48 million extension. Ibaka's deal didn't eliminate the potential for a Harden deal, but it just seems to have made things possibly more challenging.

Most see Harden as a likely max extension kind of player, especially if he were to hit the market next summer as a restricted free agent. With players like Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez and Roy Hibbert landing max deals, surely the reigning Sixth Man of the Year would get one too.

But the Thunder have the ball in their court. Harden has always expressed desire to remain with the Thunder and if the team can put together an extension he's happy with, it shouldn't be a problem. Of course there's the shadow of the luxury tax hanging over a small market like Oklahoma City but ownership may just ignore that in order to continue a run at championships.

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