By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the harden trade to the Rockets, so there’s no need for me to go into the details. There’s been a lot of talk about who wins in this trade or who got the better deal. I don’t know if that’s really a fair question though. The way I see it, it’s just a trade that had to happen for both teams. Sam Presti, OKC Thunder’s GM, had to let Harden go and Morey had no choice but to make a big offer for Harden, because timing is everything. I could argue that giving up Jeremy Lamb was a little too much, but I think if Morey could have avoided that, he would have. So if we’re just talking about assets, then I think OKC got a better deal. Martin is going to be a great scorer this season and Lamb has great potential to be better than Martin in the future. Overall though, I think it’s pretty close to an even trade. Of course, I suppose it all depends on what type of a player Lamb turns out to be.
All this being said, I think Morey made the right calculation. Players of Harden’s caliber don’t come along very often. You see, teams have a tendency to want to hold onto good players. So when someone like Harden comes along and you’re in a good situation to bring him in, then I think you have to be willing to give up a little to get him and sometimes you have to make a big gamble, like letting go a guy like Lamb. Sometimes, you can’t wait until everything is exactly the way you want it, because you could be waiting a long time. I think they could have gotten better value out of Martin if they waited, because I think Martin was going to put up all-star numbers with the Rockets, but by that time, who knows which players would be available for Morey. So that’s why I think Morey made the right choice given the circumstances.
Another way to look at the trade is that Presti HAD to make the trade, whereas Morey WANTED to make the trade. So in that sense, I think the person who WANTS to do something tends to get the better deal than the person who HAS to do something. To break this down even further, the person who WANTS to do something has made an active choice, whereas the person who HAD to do something is forced into a decision that they probably didn’t want to make.
Anyway, enough about who got the better deal. Lets call it even. I actually don’t think OKC is that much worse off, yet, the Rockets are much better off, at least if we’re just talking about the immediate future. Again, the future depends on how Lamb develops and also what picks we could have gotten from the first rounds that we gave up. So in a sense, both OKC and Houston benefited from this trade overall, I think.
One thing is for sure, the Rockets have gotten even more interesting with the addition of Harden. A lot more people are now going to be watching Rockets games now that they have Harden and Lin. Both Harden and Lin are very exciting players to watch–that is, if Lin returns to some of his Linsanity form. One interesting fact: both Lin and Harden were on first team all-state in California when they were in high school.
I’m really excited to see how these two guys play together. It could really be a good thing for Lin to have someone else who can also play the pick-and-roll. It’ll give him some relief and maybe they’ll even run some plays for him off the ball with Harden handling the ball. We’ll see. They’re definitely running plays for Harden. That’s for sure.
If Lin can get back his Linsanity form, then the back court of Lin and Harden is going to be a nightmare for teams. The interesting thing is that Harden likes to go to his left, whereas Lin likes to go right. So they’re actually pretty complementary players. The threat of Harden could really help open things up for Lin. And Harden is definitely the type of player to share the ball (Martin definitely wasn’t going to pass to Lin). The other potential benefit to Lin is that away from the court, the focus shifts away from him and maybe that’ll take some pressure off. We’ll see. One potential drawback for Lin is that if Lin continues to struggle, he’ll get looked off by his teammates and Harden is going to be the primary ball handler. In the preaseason, I noticed that Martin rarely passed to Lin during Lin’s struggles.
With the addition of Harden, Morey has made a big gamble and put together a core group of guys who have been given bigger roles than the ones they had prior to joining the Rockets:
- Asik: from bench to starter
- Lin: from third or fourth big name on a team to “face of the Franchise” (that is prior to Harden)
- Harden: from third best player on a team to best player on a team with superstar aspirations
These guys have a great deal of motivation and will give everything they’ve got. I think this is the X-factor that many analysts overlook: effort. To me effort counts a great deal. Without Harden, I thought the Rockets still had a chance to make the playoffs because they were going to scratch and claw for everything, now with Harden I think they’re basically a lock to make the playoffs as long as all the key guys are healthy. I know I’m pretty much alone in this belief. The really exciting thing is that these guys are all so young. I mean, James Harden is even younger than Lin and he’s so established already, but still hasn’t reached his peak yet. That’s very exciting to think about. These core group of guys, along with Parsons and company can develop and grow together to be a great team in the future.
SIDE NOTE: We also picked up a potential back up for Asik, Cole Aldrich, in the trade. A young guy (picked 11th in the 2010 NBA draft) that hasn’t played much, but all we really need is a big body in the paint when Asik’s on the bench. We’ll see who does a better job of this between Greg Smith and Aldrich. Smith is more of a Power Forward and brings an offensive presence. Aldrich is more of a traditional Center. Right now, I favor Smith, because of his offensive skills, but we’ll see what magic Dawson and company can do on Aldrich.