Video: A Scared Ted Lenosis Kept Bradley Beal from Becoming a Member of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Erik Gee

On Draft Night of 2012,  The Wizards had a chance to bring James Harden to Washington. Instead, owner Ted Lenosis, balked at the idea of paying Harden the $80,000,000 he was worth. 

Had fear not taken over in D.C. Bradley Beal and Chris Singleton would have become members of the Thunder. The thought of Beal playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant is enough to make even the most jaded Thunder fan's mouth water.   

On the Up in Smoke, Podcast Beal told Matt Barnes, "We're sitting in the draft room, sure enough, my agent is tapping me."... "He's like, 'It's possible you might go to OKC." 

"I said, 'Damn, how am I going to go there?"... "I ain't worked out for OKC.' I only worked out for three teams: Washington, Cleveland, and Charlotte." 

"That's when Harden was still in OKC."... "So the deal was to trade James to Washington. ... OKC was going to trade up to get me, trade James to Washington for me." 

"I would have been in OKC with K.D. and Russ. ... That was a last-minute decision. It was almost done."   The takeaway here is Sam Presti was looking to deal Harden long before he made a deal with the Rockets.

Presti and Clay Bennett weren't going to match what Harden was offered as a restricted free agent.  The Thunder played it smart by offering Harden a four-year 55.5 million dollar contract. 

The deal was four and a half million below the max, but the Thunder were taking a page out of the Tampa Bay Rays playbook, sign young stars before they hit free agency, and become too expensive. This is the same strategy they used when inking Steven Adams to his $100,000,000 deal in 2016. 

Presti drafted Perry Jones III  that night, who spent three years in Oklahoma City averaging 3 points in 12 minutes and never playing in more than 62 games a season. But, like it or not, Presti did right by Harden, even if it cost the Thunder. 

And a professional sports environment where teams want to screw players for their gain, there is something to be said for Oklahoma City's player-friendly philosophy.