I was sitting at my home, watching my favorite football team play in a beleaguered fashion. That team is the Oklahoma Sooners, and beleaguered is also how I felt. The Sooners were taking crucial haymakers from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on a Saturday night, and my beloved OU couldn't put a sustainable combination together. For a variety of reasons, Oklahomans don't like Notre Dame, so to be witnessing the Sooners suffer their ninth loss in ten games versus the Irish was a gut punch.
Who knew the finishing move was shortly coming with a tweet I read as Notre Dame took the lead in the 4th quarter.
"James Harden Traded To Houston For A Bunch Of Guys."
Or something like that, per the Daily Thunder.
The Thunder trade James Harden (WHAT), Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks and a second rounder (via Charlotte). The two first round picks come via Toronto and Dallas, with a top-three protection on the Raptors pick.
I've never owned a dog, but I imagine the feeling I felt must be what its like when your "best friend" gets smacked by a semi-truck in the road. The suddenness of it all scares you. The "sky is falling" thought process immediately kicks in. The desire to want answers to questions that aren't even formulated yet, although the only question you can really muster up is ... why?
As a Thunder fan, your first thought is to believe in the administration. That administration being Sam Presti, Scott Brooks and the rest of the leadership. We've been through this with Jeff Green, thus bringing in Kendrick Perkins in the process. We knew that bringing Perkins in was all about making a run at that elusive title. Well, we just made a run at said elusive title, and we send Harden away? What kind of sense does that make?
So i give Presti credit, he got a heavy haul back for a guy who sits on your bench, and options are on the table. Use those draft picks, see how Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb fit into the system and go from there. Or, trade Martin (and other pieces?) to get someone you'd prefer. Money has been freed up, assets have been acquired, business should eventually pick up.
Its a skeptical, delusional belief I have in the Thunder leadership. Maybe they know something I don't. Maybe they have a bigger picture of what "the plan" is in OKC. I don't know. What I do know is that it feels like the ownership felt afraid of that tax, tried to draw a line on what they will pay and made their mind up a long time ago that Harden wasn't the biggest priority. (You know, because Serge Ibaka got his contract much earlier.)
As a fan of basketball, however, I'm sad about this trade because moving Harden makes the Thunder less cool. A core group of young, energetic, hard-working, fun loving guys whom people all across the world could buy into. Now, the guy who had that beard just had to take his talents to Houston, Texas. It may seem premature, but it feels like an end of the area in Oklahoma City. The young gunners will now have a cagey veteran in their midst, and that's not whats up.
The only thing we can do is be patient and wait on the execution of Presti's plan. If it has an immediate return, then we're cool. If we end up squandering one of the best 25 players in the league to get under the luxury tax, I'd be mortified. That cannot happen. If it doesn't happen, then I'll start holding a grudge against him like I do against Bob Stoops.
I've started treating winning like a pleasant surprise to an outcome you didn't think happen. As Clark Kellogg would say, "its like finding 'found' money in your jeans." Indeed, and if this latest move doesn't work, then many are going to feel like they're going to "find" their money elsewhere.