here’s something I wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall about the Thunder trading James Harden
I mean it obviously hurts and is especially sad to lose a player who’s as talented and fun to watch as Harden, but I’ve found a lot of reasons to mitigate that sadness and hurt and even turn it into a lot of joy and excitement for the coming season. Unfortunately one of them casts Harden as a bit of a villain on his way out.
1. We FLEECED Houston. A proven veteran/scorer/leader in Martin, a lottery pick in Lamb, a future lotto pick from Toronto and (if Dirk doesn’t heal up quickly) possibly even a third from Dallas. Ooof. PJ3 was lottery talent at a late-round bargain because of an injury, so the level of young talent that will be in the Thunder lineup next season is just insane.
2. We sold about as high as we could. John Hollinger argued in his column yesterday that we got more out of Harden than the Magic got out of Dwight Howard, which is a testament to Presti’s ruthlessness and smarts. Yeah we could’ve kept Harden around for another season but trading him during this season would be disastrous to the chemistry of a contending team and signing him to a max at the end of the 2013-14 season would’ve required trading him or amnesthizing Perkins (not an option when you’re in the same division as Howard) to keep from spending too much on the luxury tax. And I guarantee you that —like Orlando— we would’ve gotten a lot less for him once everybody knew we were scared of that tax.
3. Harden had talked openly about taking a pay cut to stay in OKC. We offered him that and he balked, which is —to me— insulting. If you’re not open to the idea, don’t say so dude. On the other hand, I do feel some sympathy for Harden because dudes he was drafted ahead of —Steph Curry, Tyreke Evans— are their franchises studs while he’s playing third fiddle to Durant/Russ. Just because the market says you’re worth X amount of money doesn’t mean you’re entitled to it, and I think James is going to learn that lesson the hard way. A $45M-a-year core of Harden, Jeremy Lin, and OMER ASIK is not going to contend, ever.
4. We really aren’t losing that much in the short-term. Kevin Martin is a bottom-10 NBA defender at his position, but we’ve got a really good D and it’s not like Harden was an anchor on it. Martin’s been the LEADING SCORER on a handful of the teams he’s played for, which means that he was scoring against starting NBA defenses. He’s a natural. Imagine what he’ll do against second teams, cause it’s not like he’s going to be starting for the Thunder. And Jeremy Lamb’s a pretty interesting prospect, who’s potential to replace Martin in the long term (as the latter is 29).