The beard is gone.
In commiseration the Thunder ought to collectively shave their beards and pay tribute to one of the best guards in the league who is no more with them. Been traded to the Rockets that is, not no longer with them in the cosmic sense. On the other hand maybe the Thunder ought to go and shave off the famous beard of Harden and throw it in his face for not working out an extension with the Thunder.
The sword had been looming over the Thunder as a thundercloud since training camp time. Will Harden stay or will he go? “We wanted to sign James to an extension, but at the end of the day, these situations have to work for all those involved. Our ownership group again showed their commitment to the organization with several significant offers. We were unable to reach a mutual agreement, and therefore executed a trade that capitalized on the opportunity to bring in a player of Kevin’s caliber, a young talent like Jeremy and draft picks, which will be important to our organizational goal of a sustainable team.” – Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement.
The Thunder get Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb in exchange. Lamb is the better prospect long term. But Martin will be coming in with more minutes. In terms of pure numbers James Harden and Kevin Martin averaged similar ones. In fact Martin averaged 17.1 points per game with 2.8 assists. And Harden kept up 16.8 points and 3.7 assists. But the two players are markedly different in their skillset. Martin is more of a pure scorer while Harden is a handyman who does it all and is a much better defender.
According to reports Harden turned down $52 million dollars for four years, following which he was traded. That’s about $13 million per year. The average salary in the NBA is around $ 5.1 million dollars.
Should Harden have stayed on for less money? One way to look at it is once a player gets himself in a position to earn obscene amounts of money he should be willing to do all it takes to be on a team which is on the right path. Durant is set to earn $17 million this year. Almost $70 million over the next four years. Westbrook is set to make the same amount over the next five years. Maybe Harden feels snubbed here. To the everyman that’s a snub we would be happy and willing to take, having to earn $13 million for playing basketball and being on a team like OKC Thunder which is poised to be a perennial finals contender in the west. So who is the bad guy here? The Thunder for not forking over enough money to Harden to make him stay? Or is the beard at fault for not taking the offer on the table? Harden can get more with the Rockets and the Thunder are not in a position to match that. But the Thunder can win right here and right now. If you are James Harden would you rather retire with a couple of rings or at worst years of being the best in the west? Or would you rather retire a few dollars richer and struggling to get into the playoffs with the Houston Rockets?
James, Wade and Bosh collectively took on less money to play together. After earning top dollar with the Cavs James decided he wanted to win more than anything. The other James seems to be on that course in reverse. Leaving a winning team in pursuit of top dollar. The grass is always greener on the other side. Maybe Kevin Martin can help the Thunder in a better way, its not always about being the better player on paper. Chemistry comes into it too and Martin is one of the most savvy players in the league. The Thunder also get Jeremy Lamb and draft considerations and the Rockets get Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward. Remains to be seen which team comes out better from this trade.