Wizards owner denies money was why team didn't trade for Harden

By Royce Young | NBA writer
Wiz owner Ted Leonsis tried to debunk the Harden talk. (Getty Images)

Reportedly, the Wizards turned down an offer from the Thunder for James Harden because owner Ted Leonsis wasn't willing to shell out a five-year, $80 million deal.

There were many more factors to the reported trade, and it wasn't as cut-and-dried as the Wizards simply rejecting the Thunder, but obviously with Washington terrible again this season, fans are rightfully annoyed the team missed out on a likely All-Star.

Owner Ted Leonsis went to his blog to give his side of the story and basically said The Washington Post's report was incorrect.

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.

I hope this sets the record straight, and if the anonymous sources would like to debate the facts and what I know to be the truth, then I welcome them to come forward. Thank you.

(Before Leonsis got to that, though, he spent a few paragraphs justifying the Wizards' terrible 3-17 record, talking about key injuries that include players like Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and A.J. Price. Pro-tip: If your team is 3-17 because you're missing Trevor Ariza, then your team wasn't any good to begin with. Alas.)

Leonsis says he'd like the "anonymous sources" to debate the "facts" with him. Considering this all very likely originated by someone in the Wizards' front office, that person shouldn't be hard to find.

Claiming an owner won't spend is just about the worst thing you can allege about them. Especially when the team is terrible and has been terrible for multiple seasons. Leonsis is trying to save face. While there are a lot of sides to this particular story -- such as this deal between the Wizards and Thunder wasn't actually an "offer" but more a preliminary discussion, according to sources -- we don't know the truth. Leonsis does, though. Question is whether he's telling it here.

 
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