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Smack / Sep 13, 2012 / 7:00 am

Somebody thinks Harden is staying in OKC; Jim Calhoun is retiring

James Harden

James Harden (photo. Nicky Woo)

It’s no secret that the NBA is on the mainstream backburner right now — stuck in that period when everybody is paying attention to football and the MLB playoff chase, when pretty much every important free agent has been signed, and when training camp isn’t exactly right around the corner. But in places like Oklahoma City, they’re just as basketball-obsessed as they were during the NBA Finals. Even on days when there’s no other NBA news to report, there’s still something coming out of OKC. Lately it’s been all about James Harden and Serge Ibaka. More specifically, after Ibaka signed his $48 million deal over the summer, it’s been about whether the Thunder will have room to sign Harden. The Rockets, Mavs and Suns have been mentioned as teams that will go after The Bearded One hard in free agency, and that list is only gonna grow … But at least according to Kendrick Perkins, Harden isn’t going anywhere. Perk was quoted by The Oklahoman saying the team is “getting close” to re-upping with Harden on an extension. “Once James gets here it’s nothing to be said,” Perk said. “He’ll see his family and that’s all he needs. So once he sees everybody’s faces that’s enough said.” We’re not saying we know Harden better than Perkins knows him, but once Harden envisions the other faces he’ll be seeing next summer — Franklin, Grant, Jackson, Price Akeem — and remembers he should be able to see a lot more of them in another city than he’ll see in OKC, family might become less important … The biggest stories in basketball yesterday were from the college ranks. Jim Calhoun is retiring after 26 years and three national championships at UConn, and Notre Dame is joining the ACC in basketball (and every other sport except football). Calhoun has something of a complicated legacy. On one hand, he won a ton of games, put a ton of guys in the pros, and was the primary reason UConn is now considered a national powerhouse. On the other hand, especially in recent years, there was always some kind of borderline scandal hovering over the program. And because of that it kind of feels like Calhoun is walking away before a real storm hits, kind of like Pete Carroll at USC. When you think about Calhoun, do you think of the good stuff first, or the bad? … Keep reading to hear the latest free-agent rumors…

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