Hardened times in the Western Conference; the Beard flies south for the winter

Smack dab in the middle of a huge weekend in sports, with the NFL, college football and the World Series all in full swing, it was an NBA trade that grabbed all the headlines.

As sports fans who make far less money than the athletes we root for on television, every once in a while a roster move comes along that leaves us absolutely confounded.  We wonder, perhaps too logically, why athletes leave what appear to be good situations for lousy ones just for a few extra million bucks.  Most of us with any sense, and a handy pocket calculator, recognize that the difference between $55 million and $60 million is only five million dollars and while that’s an amount most of us can’t fathom, when you’re making $55 mil over the course of a multi-year contract, five mil seems like a mere pittance when it comes to measuring one’s happiness.  Or so we would think.

Enter the bearded one, James Harden.  Harden was a crucial part of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s run to the 2012 NBA Finals.  He won last year’s Sixth Man award in a near unanimous decision, averaging 17 points a game.  He is one of the league’s most promising young stars.  Alongside Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and a number of other quality players, the Thunder looked like they had enough talent to give the Miami Heat a run for their money for years to come and perhaps establish the next great NBA rivalry.

That’s no longer going to happen, at least not with James Harden on their roster.

Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets this weekend, ending his successful run in Oklahoma City.  He did so for only five million more dollars.

Now, again, this is a number that you and I will never see in our lifetime (I don’t think Bill Gates is a SportsChump subscriber) but one would think quality of life, which in the NBA translates to wins and titles, has to account for something.  Or maybe it doesn’t and I’m just out of my mind.

The Houston Rockets, for whom Harden will now be playing, are a decent team, more so now with his addition.  They’ll probably start him at two-guard, shedding him of that sixth man label and maybe, deep down inside, that’s what Harden wanted.  Who’s to say?  But the Houston Rockets are no Oklahoma City Thunder.  Not even close.  The Thunder made the Finals last year; the Rockets missed the playoffs.  The Thunder have Russell Westbrook.  The Rockets have Jeremy Lin.  ‘Nuff said.

Sometimes egos get in the way of common sense.  Maybe that’s what happened here.  But when Harden woke up the very next morning after being traded and looked at the closet of clothes he’ll soon have to pack, he couldn’t have been happy about the way things went down.  Neither is your average NBA fan.

Houston’s only about 500 miles from Oklahoma City but these days, James Harden is a lot farther away from an NBA championship than ever he was.  I hope the extra five million was worth it.

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19 Replies to “Hardened times in the Western Conference; the Beard flies south for the winter”

  1. Pingback: Hardened times in the Western Conference; the Beard flies south for the winter - BallHyped Blog Network, NBA | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Who knows? Ask Ray Allen. He’ll tell you what its all about. I do think that the Rockets just got better, even with Jeremy Lin choking the big egg roll.

  3. I just don’t get it, Snake.

    It’s not like he jumped at a considerably larger offer. The difference was five million bucks. That’s chump change.

    Are these guys really that egotistical that they can’t handle making a few coins less than the next guy? Do they all have to be the alpha dog on their own team?

    Houston will struggle to make the playoffs this year and I do agree, they got better, but they’re not serious contenders.

    And now, OKC might not be either.

    Hey, at least we’ll finally get to see that Kobe-LeBron Finals we’ve all been waiting for.

  4. <>

    What are you, a comedian? The only way that’s happening is if Lebron gets traded to the Celtics.

  5. Chris

    In anybody’s book , $5 million is a lot of “cheddar “ . The fact that Harden took less to play for the Rockets should tell you something . At at the same , time the Thunder were not prepared to offer him a max contract, paying him $60 million over 5 years. If I’m Harden , my foot would be kicking Rob Pelinka’s a#s (Hardens’ agent) for not offering sound advice , much less trying to get the best deal possible.

    Tophatal …………

  6. Al…

    Even though they won last year, we’ve seen and will continue to see the struggles teams go through when they sign three players to what add to essentially max contracts. They can’t afford a solid supporting cast. Even Bosh and LBJ took a little less money to sign in South Beach.

    As talented as they are, we saw last year that Harden, Durant and Westbrook are no James, Wade and Bosh.

    Modern say GMs have to crunch numbers and if the numbers don’t add up, tough decisions need to be made. Sounds like that’s what happened here.

  7. Chris

    That’s why teams in small markets are hampered as they don’t have the spending power of the big market teams. The NBA has a ” soft cap” for the 2012-13 season of $58.044 million . Now look at the payrolls of the teams and those who will actually surpass that figure ? Of the league’s thirty teams , twenty three will exceed that soft cap . So to tell me how is it that these teams are being financially prudent and that is in light of their being allowed to buyout contracts ? Stern has a modicum of business acumen but his real concern , has been to hang unto power and rule with an iron fist .

    NBA team values indicating also their revenues and profitability

    Tophatal …………….

  8. The one thing we should be thankful for , is that the NBA isn’t like the federal government . Simply borrowing , so that they can continue exist , or should I say operate ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

  9. Chris

    Bosh , LBJ , and D Wade, may well have taken less money , but it can’t hide the fact that teams are making a frigging mockery of the NBA salary cap (Soft cap [$58.044 million]) .

    So explain to me how these teams are being financially prudent that is in spite of the asinine clause where a team can buyout a veteran player’s contract ? All of this horse#hit I’ve read about teams being financially prudent is a goddamn joke ! 22 of the league’s 30 teams are over that cap . Never mind the fact that the hierarchy also imposes an asinine luxury tax .

    Stern , the league hierarchy , owners and union (NPBPA) have no fuc#ing conscience , as they in the end would rather choose to screw the fans over . Doubt my word ?

    NBA team values , their profitability and revenues

    Not only do the Jets suck but the entire organization has become seriously delusional ! The same too applies with the Cowboys . Jerry Jones still remains insistent that the team is competitive and can win at the highest level.

    Is it now time for both Reid and Vick to take a back seat when it comes to the Eagles ?

    Tophatal ………..

  10. Al…

    Here’s what Slam is saying about the Harden deal.


    That Presti offered Harden a deal and told him he had limited time to decide because the Houston trade wasn’t going to be on the table all that long.

    Keep in mind, I think another reason we were all shocked by this move is that we’ve been so accustomed to players dictating deals. In this case, it was all Presti.

  11. Al…

    Perhaps it’s time to extend the cap then if almost every team is going over it. If that’s the case, I have a hard time believing any of the NBA team owners when they cry broke.

    And things are getting interesting in the NFC East with the Cowboys and Eagles both sucking. As usual, the Giants are the cream of that crop.

  12. Team owners can cry broke but here is the thing , look at how many team have sought to go over that soft cap ($58.044 million) ? 22 of thirty teams and we are talking about them being financially responsible ? It’s completely asinine !

    Harden is now stacked with ” cheddar” having now signed a 5 year deal with the Rockets .

    And cap it all , he goes off for 35p points , 12 ast &5 reb’s against the Pistons .

    Left you a response with regard to my latest piece . You didn’t offer an opinion on Jags’ owner Shahid Khan and how he has been treated ? What gives on that ?

    Time gentlemen , please !

    Tophatal ….

  13. How about that, huh, Al?

    At least for one night, Houston got their 80 million worth.

    Not a bad opener for Harden, although, let’s keep in mind. They were playing the Pistons.

  14. Something interesting I heard was that during negotiations the Thunder GM said either take the deal or we’ll trade you to Houston. Going to a state with zero income tax might have sounded appealing…if you weren’t concerned with winning a title.

  15. The Houston Rockets must be giving themselves numerous pats in the back after this trade. James Harden looks focused to make the Thunder pay for their mistake.

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