Did Sam Presti make a mistake by trading James Harden?

10/28/12 in NBA   |   Jeverson_Cruz   |   4 respect

Jun 12, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) against the Miami Heat during the second quarter of game one in the 2012 NBA Finals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIREAs many of you are aware of, the Oklahoma City Thunder have traded reigning Sixth man of the year James Harden to the Houston Rockets, for a package surrounded around Kevin Martin and this year’s 11th overall pick Jeremy Lamb. All 2009 first round picks had until Wednesday to get an extension with their team or become a restricted free agent in the summer. When a player is a restricted free agent, under the new collective bargaining rules his team has three days to match an offer made by another team, in order to retain the player. In this situation, the contracts of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and recently extended Serge Ibaka made it difficult for OKC to give Harden a max contract.
 
Earlier this week, Yahoosports.com reported that the Thunder offered Harden a 4 year $55.5 million extension, which is $4.5 million less than the max a team could offer a player and Harden declined. After so much optimism that a deal would get done, something must have went wrong in the negotiations that forced Thunder general manager Sam Presti to agree on dealing Harden. Was Presti wrong by dealing Harden?
 
In my opinion, Presti was not wrong by dealing Harden. Many general managers around the NBA knew that if he and the Thunder couldn’t reach an agreement, then someone would offer him a max deal once he became a free agent. Presti did the correct thing in collecting assets for Harden, instead of letting him walk as a free agent for nothing during the summer. Offering Harden the max would have cash strapped the Thunder and a small market team must watch their luxury tax to not suffer severe penalties. Presti came out and said that the organization presented several offers to Harden and that eventually they could not come to a consensus.
 
Besides Harden, Houston also received Guards/Forwards Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook as well as Cole Aldrich, all who are serviceable players at the NBA level. The Thunder on the other hand, get Kevin Martin who is a gifted scorer in this league, as well as Jeremy Lamb who has the tools of a great NBA scorer, along with two future first round picks and a second rounder. One of those picks comes from the Toronto Raptors, which Houston acquired earlier this summer in the Kyle Lowry trade. That pick may turn out to be a valuable asset for the Thunder, as the Raptors may not be very good and may once again be lottery bound. 
 
When you’re a small market team in the NBA, you have to build through the draft, along with trades to build a formidable to that can contend. Sam Presti did the right thing by not letting Harden walk after this year without getting anything in return. He knew that unless Harden agreed to take a little less money, his team wouldn’t be able to retain him. He sold high and acquired some great assets in the process. If Kevin Martin doesn’t pan out, he could go ahead and trade him before the deadline to fill other holes in the roster. Jeremy Lamb is a first year player who can learn from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and help this team for many years to come. The draft picks will also be very valuable in possible trades and drafting talent to form a supporting cast that can help this team continue to contend in a tough Western Conference. Presti hit a buzzer beater did a great job with this deal and continues to be one of the best general managers in the league at evaluating talent and putting his team in the best position to win and compete every year. As for James Harden, he is a great talent and we shall see how he does in a team that may call for him to be the go-to guy. He will now start opposite Jeremy Lin and will get the max contract he was seeking. If it is in fact true that Harden did not sign due to the Thunder offering $4.5 million less, then many should wonder whether winning and the brotherhood between him, Durant and Westbrook was ever a priority.
 
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10/28/12   |   Jeverson_Cruz   |   4 respect

I apologize to all readers but Jeremy Lamb was the 12th pick not the 11th pick as the article states. 

10/28/12   |   Jeverson_Cruz   |   4 respect

GeorgeMon wrote:
I completely disagree. All of Presti's talk about being a smal market team and not being able to afford another max contract is total b.s. It's 2012! The idea of a small market team is myth. Okc sold out every game last year, has a die hard fan base and from all reports made around $40 million in profit.  And that has been going on for the last few years, so for Presti to try and low ball Harden over a 5 million difference is absurd. Why should Harden be asked to sacrifice when management clearly has the money to pay him?

we live in an age where i can watch every OKC game on my iPad, so while there may be unpopular teams there is no such thing as small market teams. If the Bucks put together a contender through the draft they would become just as popular as anyone else. 

I totally respect your opinion but Presti came out publicly and stated that various offers were presented to James Harden and he didn't like any of them. Ultimately, this all comes down to having the consent from those above you to offer the max and it seemed like Presti did not have that, forcing him to trade Harden. The luxury tax penalties will be really hefty next year, so I am assuming he that was another reason why Harden was traded. Also his performance in the finals probably is another reason why OKC did not offer the max.

10/28/12   |   GeorgeMon   |   159 respect

I completely disagree. All of Presti's talk about being a smal market team and not being able to afford another max contract is total b.s. It's 2012! The idea of a small market team is myth. Okc sold out every game last year, has a die hard fan base and from all reports made around $40 million in profit.  And that has been going on for the last few years, so for Presti to try and low ball Harden over a 5 million difference is absurd. Why should Harden be asked to sacrifice when management clearly has the money to pay him?

we live in an age where i can watch every OKC game on my iPad, so while there may be unpopular teams there is no such thing as small market teams. If the Bucks put together a contender through the draft they would become just as popular as anyone else.