One of the biggest “What if’s” in NBA history happened a few years ago now when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded away James Harden.
The move was surprising and disappointing and head-scratching.
It’s in the past now, but Harden sat down with Henry Abbott of ESPN TrueHoop recently to reflect on what happened. Here are a few of the interesting back-and-forths:
If you had won that year, would you be in Oklahoma right now?
I have no idea. It’s a great question. I wish we could go back and play Game 2 again.
It ended up they had some salary cap and money concerns and didn’t offer you as much as you could make elsewhere. If the money had been equal and you could choose OKC or Houston, where would you have chosen?
Um. It’s a tough question. It’s a tough question.
I don’t know.
Like I said, I grew in Oklahoma City. They taught me a lot. Now I’m in Houston, I’ve got my own, basically, my own team. You know, me and Dwight. It’s kind of different situations. Oklahoma City: came off the bench. Now, I’m starting. There’s a larger role. Both are great situations.
Harden doesn’t reveal too much here really. He’s not going to come out and say that he’d rather still be with OKC since he’s moved on to Houston and that’s understandable.
Harden does say that winning is the most important thing, which is obviously not entirely true. Otherwise, he’s still be in OKC making much less money. Not that he should have done that, he made the right decision for himself, but let’s just agree that he’d be winning more if he stayed with the Thunder.
Looking back, it will just always kind of suck that the Thunder couldn’t keep Harden. More than anything, it’s just disappointing we will never know how far that Thunder team could have gone and if they could have won titles.
The Thunder may be better off for the long run after parting ways with Harden. They basically got Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams for Harden. Both are young and promising and Lamb may not be good enough to demand the kind of money that would be too much for the Thunder (that’s a good thing).
It’ll always be interesting to hear comments from Harden or anyone in OKC about what happened and why it all didn’t work out.