Well technically James is still on this earth, but not the same James Harden as he was two days ago. I just want to make this known that I am never against anyone wanting more money. I don’t blame Harden or resent him for this decision. I would have rather had him resigned, but this isn’t 2k13 and five million dollars means alot to people. (Much more if you calculate the added luxury tax) That being said, I want to make a few points about my initial reaction.
The Thunder are a worse team today than they were Saturday afternoon. I don’t know how anyone could argue with that point. Here are some points up for discussion though.
First and the most obvious is cap flexibility. With the new CBA we still are not sure how this is going to effect teams with a large amount of salary tied up with three or four players. We are going to find out soon in Memphis is a small market team can pull it off, but there is no real president yet. This means Maynor will likely be back also. (Hooray)
Kevin Martin will be able to replace Hardin’s scoring. He is a terrible defender and won’t match James’ play making ability but can score points. Martin has always been a good player on a bad team. Hopefully he will be able to settle into more of a supporting role which will increase his inefficiency. Even thought Martin has been around for awhile, but has never been asked to do what he will with OKC. It will be interesting to see how he fits in.
Cook and Haywood leaving doesn’t hurt the Thunder at all. Perry Jones was going to take Cook’s minutes and production off the bench. Without Cole I am not sure who is going to back up Perkins. If anyone tries to tell me Thabeet can back him up I will get angry.
Draft picks. Top 20 protected pick from Dallas. They might not get that pick for several years, but again it is an asset. A top 3 protected pick from the Raptors however is very valuable. The only thing that bugs me is the Thunder were in the NBA finals last year. They don’t need to get young assets, they need to win now. But that brings me to my next point/prediction.
Presti will make another move this season to move some combinations of assets for a better veteran piece. I have no idea who, but I don’t believe the Thunder are going to stand pat for the rest of the season. Three first round picks and multiple young talents should make quite the package for any team.
So after almost a day to process, I truly believe this make the Thunder worse for this and next year, but better in the long term future. Which is frustrating for a team with championship aspirations, but the Thunder have shown commitment to the team and a team philosophy by trading now both Jeff Green and James Harden. Now we just have to wait until Thursday to see how this really changed the team.