Sunday, October 28, 2012

What the fudge?

Mrs. Angus took a picture of me last night after I heard about the Harden trade:

I have since calmed down a bit, and am actually OK with the deal.

Durant, Westbrook, Perkins & Ibaka all left money on the table to sign contract extensions with the Thunder. OKC was offering James $54 million over 4 years and asking him to take about a $4.5 million discount over the life of the contract.

He wouldn't.

The Thunder got a lot in return. A high lottery pick either this year or next, another first round pick, a proven scorer to come off the bench in Kevin Martin, and a potentially solid rookie in Jeremy Lamb.

I would like to think that if I was going to be making $13 million a year, I would give up an extra $1.2 million per year to stay on a championship caliber team instead of being tossed into a bare cupboard and getting "coached" by Kevin McHale.

But James Harden wouldn't and who knows, maybe I wouldn't either.

I know the team could have kept Harden this year and seen what developed, but that is apparently just not the Thunder way (see Jeff Green), and it is not clear how Harden would have reacted to being in limbo for the season.

The funniest reaction I've seen to the trade is this bit of genius from Matt Yglesias. Russell Westbrook  was second team all NBA for the second year in a row, and is just getting better and better overall and at playing the point. James Harden is a shooting guard, the easiest thing to find in the NBA.


jay said...

You're doing a fine job rationalizing but it's just that.

Neither Durant nor Westbrook could have gotten *more* money any other place. Maybe Ibaka could have but it's hard to assess the counterfactual; I don't think he would have gotten much more on an open market.

Further, Harden is *not* just another shooting guard. He's an extraordinarily efficient scorer, unlike Westbrook who gets attention (like the honors you mention) partially because he shoots a lot. It's easy to talk up Jeremy Lamb or the #10 or whatever from Toronto but those are unknown quantities. James Harden is the best player from his draft!

All that said, I'm not sure this was the wrong move for OKC---with all that money tied up they were going to be very limited---but it fundamentally changes their standing in the West. They go from the likely #1 or #2 seed for the next few years to much more uncertain future.

Angus said...

Jay I agree that the Thunder are worse off than they were. No doubt. They'll be in the Western Conference Finals though.

Chris said...

Angus: They'll be in the Western Conference Finals though.

Can I borrow your copy of "What Losers Say: The Karl Malone Story of Settling for Second Place" when you're finished?

You coulda been a Contendah! I was really looking forward to Thunder '12-'15. Now, slightly less so.