James Harden has been traded to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks, and one second round pick. What the hell is going on? What the hell just happened? I’m angry. I’m very angry. Not because of the winner or loser of this trade but more about that one of my favorite teams to watch and to follow have just been broken up. Harden, Westbrook and Durant were the three musketeers destined to win a championship for OKC. It’s a perfect superhero story, the three underdogs fighting hard against the villains in Miami. It’s upsetting. It really is. It feels rushed to be honest.
They didn’t want to give him the max contract of 60 million, which is stupid. They as a franchise have always been precise, they have always been careful when creating their roster. They’ve never been over the luxury tax. So now they don’t want to. But they should. James Harden is a superstar trapped in a 6th Man’s Position, if anything they should give him 60 million just for being a good teammate and playing a smaller role. He is easily an all-star player and he is the thing that keeps the Thunder contenders. So what if they pay a little luxury tax every year with him on the floor, big deal it’s easily worth winning a championship. They were so close. That’s my first complaint. The fact that they didn’t even consider the max contract. What’s funny is that Kevin Martin is due 55 million dollars over the next 5 years. He is making more than OKC offered Harden meaning they really didn’t gain much flexibility in terms of cap. However, they did shed Cole Aldrich, Cook and Lazar Hayward’s contracts, which weren’t significant players anyway.
Second part to consider here is did the Thunder get better? I don’t think so. Did they get worse? I don’t think so either. James Harden averaged 17, 4 and 4 this past season coming off the bench. He was not only a great scorer, an olympian, a future all-star but he was a playmaker and a defender. He was their best pick and roll ball handler, and the spark that they needed off the bench. The scoring will be replaced if not improved by Kevin Martin – a scoring specialist – and Jeremy Lamb – a bright and talented young rookie. The defense and passing will not be replaced. The Thunder lose a playmaker most of all. James Harden was the truest point guard on the team and they lose that. I think OKC is really hoping Jeremy Lamb becomes a James Harden type of player. He definitely could be, no doubt. The problem with losing a ball handler and a playmaker is that that is more valuable than a scorer especially on a team with KD and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder really needed a playmaker to compete with the Heat and the Thunder but now they just have more scorers but no true playmakers.
Third part to consider here is did the Rockets get better? I think they did. Kevin Martin has done nothing for Houston in all his time there beside score inefficiently and stop the ball movement. Now they have a star. They have a strong and talented backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden. They have a guy with experience of getting to the finals, and now I think is Harden’s time to really become a superstar. He will most definitely be starting for Houston and he is the center of their offense now. He is the first option. I think this trade really benefits Harden. He may not think so right now, and he will have to build the team up instead of already being at the top like he was in OKC but he is the Kevin Durant of this team now. He has the green light to go whenever he wants. I think Houston has a really exciting team right now. Their backcourt is young and talented, they still have rookies Royce White and Terrence Jones for their future. They have Carlos Delfino and Asik. They have some interesting pieces and I think they will really step up the ladder in the Western Conference now.
Nonetheless i’m still extremely upset. I just can’t wrap my head around a Thunder team without James Harden. One thing I did forget to mention though is that the Thunder are counting on PJIII to be huge in the future. Let’s face the reality once they re-signed Ibaka there just wasn’t a spot for Harden anymore. As sad as it is it was time to move on. I wish the best of luck to the big bearded fellow in Houston.