How about a hearty welcome to the world of professional sports fandom for our friends in Oklahoma City. Junior’s sure going to look weird in “The Beard” costume on Wednesday night now. While most of us were watching college football, Sam Presti and Daryl Morey were busy putting the finishing touches on a game changing trade that sent James Harden to Houston.
This must feel awful for OKC fans right now BUT, once the decision was made that they weren’t going to pay him, you could argue their haul for James Harden was comparable to ORL’s for Dwight Howard. They brought in a solid bench scoring option on an expiring deal in Kevin Martin. They added a talented young wing player Jeremy Lamb who was at his best when playing second fiddle at UCONN and looked uncomfortable when asked to be “the man.” They’ll also be in a rare position in the NBA: A title contender with chances to add in the draft as they also squeezed out two first round picks with one being lottery guaranteed.
“The OKC Model” was certainly a cute phrase while it lasted. It lasted until December 8, 2011 the day that the new CBA was signed. Between the new luxury tax scale and for some reason only being able to offer one 5-year-max extension, OKC never really had a chance to resign Harden. Unless of course he was willing to accept $30 million less. Again, welcome to professional sports fandom OKC. I hate to be pessimistic, but if the Cavs rebuild goes as well as I hope it does we’re going to be cursing those same three letters. But would Dan Gilbert go the extra mile that OKC owner Clay Bennett would not? Let’s hope to find out.
You can't count out the Thunder, however, as Presti could be working on the new OKC model. The CBA has made super teams awfully expensive to assemble through free agency and also through the draft. Presti has basically forgone one huge piece and a cap nightmare for the abillity to supplement talent on rookie deals. He has Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb right now, and as I mentioned above, he’ll have the abillity to add more young talent on the cheap in the future as well. With the stars he already has in the fold, he really only needs to hit on one of these, or get small contributions from a few, to continue to extend their window.
I don’t think anyone expected such a shakeup to the landscape of the NBA so close to tip off but that’s today’s NBA. Stars are moving all over the place all the time it seems. It doesn’t seem to be a trend that will end soon either. Congratulations to Houston for finally reeling in the big name they’ve been after. Now we’ll get to see how Morey builds around him. As far as the Cavs go, we can only hope that we find a way to put ourselves in a position to bring on more and more talent and hopefully we are racking our brains a few years down the road trying to find ways to resign them all. With a 26-game losing streak in our not so distant memories that seems like it would be a good problem to have.