Joe Johnson comes immediately to mind. On the bench in Boston to very capable starter in Phoenix to All-Star in Atlanta.
Not saying Harden is going to be an all-star but he was an Olympian and he is still just 23. He has never had the opportunity to be the man. Is he going to succeed? I don't know but we'll all certainly find out soon enough.
Presti has balls.. and I wish he was our GM.. however I see two immediate issues with that trade from OKC In my opinion, RW is more of a SG than a PG. Harden played the point position for them off the bench. Martin/Lamb are shooters but can't play point. Maynor can pass, but is he reliable?? They also got thinner in their front court by trading away Aldrich. PJ3 appears to be too much of a tweener to play PF (and I'm not sure if Durant would want to switch positions either).
From a Raptors perspective, what I love most about this transaction is that Houston is now out of the running for Gay (if Memphis ever decides to trade him). Houston won't have the cap space to take on Gay's salary without trading one of Lin/Asik or now Harden.. and they won't do that. That still leaves Cleveland with cap space/draft picks and a need for a SF.
Again he did a great job in giving up the best player and getting back good value for it, but as far as contending for a championship he imo has seemingly taken a step back. Time shall tell I suppose.
I believe this was also a money reason deal. There was apparently only a 4-5 mill. separation between the 2 parties before Presti made the deal. I suppose Harden did not want to give OKC a discount over the 4 year period. My own view is that he should have considering the champ. team he was already with. Apparently if he had stayed their big four (Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden) would have accounted for near 60 mill. Isnt 70 the luxury tax ceiling? They were going to have to screw up their bench cause they are not a big market team to afford a tax. Also I think KMart may have been forced on Presti to do the deal but he has just 1 year left....so he comes off the books. Good deal for OKC.
Anyone adhere to the old idea of whoever got the best player in the deal wins the trade? Initially I thought it was a landslide at first but no matter how many mid to late (raptors hopefully) or very late (lakers) first round picks you get, they have to turn into something. In the end, if lamb and pj3 just wind up as rotation players, i think most people would take harden locked in at a similar price to Martin (who i think is expiring this year or next). That said, since he felt he had to make the trade with a deadline, Presti did quite well. Not sure what it says about Harden though. Go for 10% more but leave a championship core. I guess he wanted to be a starter.
Harden has taken giant steps forward the past - his TS% was out of this world last season - and that with a ~20% usage rate. It remains to be seen what he will do in Houston. If he averages 35 minutes and 25-28% usage rate, he could average 23-25 PPG. As his TS% was so high last year, it's unclear to me where it will be with defenses focusing on him.
It will be interesting to see how he plays with Lin.
My opinion is that Houston is gambling on players whose ceiling is very uncertain. Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik (who I think of as much better defender than Noah), and now Harden. I doubt all three gambles will pay off but it's certainly an intriguing attempt at becoming relevant very quickly. I do hope it pays off for Houston.
Harden wants to be a star player not the third choice. He'll make way more dinero as the best player in a large market team, thinking of shoe contracts and endorsement deals as well salary in the long term. The Joe Johnson analogy is an good one.
As Ive said on here, its not that I think hes a bad player. In fact, I think hes a very good player. I would even stretch as far as top 30 in the league (ESPN ranks says #58).
As for him vs Westrbook, ya, I guess nothing is a foregone conclusion .. but you are talking a top 10 for sure, arguably top 5 player in the league in Westbrook. A guy who can play PG, but also score at will and is a top 3 athlete beside Rose & Lebron (and DH12). He plays hard as hell and plays great D. I would build a franchise around him in a split second. I cant say the same for Harden.
Is it possible Harden improves and Westbrook is too much of a headcase to ever fully "get it"? Ya, thats possible. But the odds are much better that Westbrook has a way better career than Harden.
Will be interesting to see if it translates being the first option in Houston ..
(It's also why I reached a lot to grab Harden at #4 in my fantasy league.)
2. I was under impression players want to be on contenders even if it means less money?
3. Am I missing something or did I miss Harden "disappearing" when it counted (in the finals)?
4. Hungry K Mart with less pressure to be the man (because of Westbrook & Durant) will be deadly. So, he is not a great defender - that's why you have Perkins & Ibaka. Also, K Mart in contract year. Could be interesting.
All in all IMHO incredible deal for OKC (and good for us I suppose -much less competition for Gay).
I'd much rather be an OKC fan today than a Rockets fan...
1. OKC much better in the long-term, both in terms of players (Lamb & 2 additional 1st round picks) and financial flexibility
2. After Rockets sign Harden to max contract, they'll have more than $30M per season (1/2 cap space) tied up in a 3-player core: Harden, Asik and Lin (yikes!)
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