If free agency and the draft wasn’t enough change for you, then the latest news in the NBA may catch your eye. No, I don’t mean Stern giving the “traditional” 15 months notice that he’s quitting, but rather the James Harden trade. In case you didn’t catch the details, OKC got Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks, and the always vital 2nd round pick. In return, the Rockets welcomed James Hardin, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward, and Daequan Cook to Houston.
Although recent, most noise I’ve heard is that OKC got robbed in this deal. James Hardin reportedly wanted a max deal, but OKC offered him about a million less a year and Hardin refused. So before I write the rest of this article just ripping this guy for being completely greedy, I want to talk about the bigger picture.
If you look forward, this is the best thing that could have happened for the Thunder. We all know how young OKC is and how they should dominate the West for the next decade, but there was one huge factor in why that nucleus could never work together, cash money. If a team signs 3 players at for a max contact, or close to it, every other player on that salary must be paid the league minimum due to the salary cap. That would mean Perk, Ibaka, and any other player of value that may play well, would have to walk or lose out on millions, as in multiple. To say Ibaka, who should have been defensive player of the year last year, would get paid around 470K instead of what he’s worth, by my guess would probably close to 8 million, is ridiculous.
So OKC gets rid of a player who’s asking for the world, and in return gets a proven scorer, a promising rookie, and a number of picks for Sixth Man of the year and fillers who didn’t log minutes for them. What about the 6 people in Houston who actually like the Rockets. They may be reading this wondering about what how they’ll do next year. That answer is the same as they do every year. They are going to overpay for a player who has been third on every scouting report in the league and will now being at the top of every defensive scouting report. (Sound familiar Jeremy Lin?) Again, looking at the even bigger picture, this tells me which small market owners are poised to be great, and which are doomed to another season mediocrity.