Yes, the Thunder still wants to be. Harden wasn't going to stay. He'd have become a restricted free agent and the Thunder would have gotten nothing for him. The salary he was demanding would have put the Thunder waaaaay over the luxury tax. Presti isn't willing to do that. He made an offer that would have already put them over the limit; Harden turned it down. $55 million wasn't enough and that was as high as Presti was willing to go. They'd been negotiation for 3 months. Harden's agent kept telling him to turn it down, so he did. Presti said he'd trade him and Harden thought he was bluffing.
The Thunder's going to be fine. I'm surprised at all this death knell talk. The two first round picks and the second round pick they acquired will put them in a good position for the future. Presti isn't willing to mortgage the future; that's always been his business model and he sticks to it. Time will tell if it was the right decision, but Harden wasn't going to score 45 points a game with the Thunder because he wouldn't have been starting. Good luck to him in Houston. He has his 80 million and a starter's role. Good luck to Houston. If it doesn't work out for them, they have zero wiggle room in their salary structure for the next couple of years. The Thunder does. We've all been saying for the past year that we would probably lose Harden. It wasn't a shock. It is what it is.