The OKC Thunder Took A Calculated Gamble In The James Harden Trade

Trending 7 months ago

Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder executive vice president and wide manager, speaks during a news ... [+] convention successful Oklahoma City, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All authorities reserved.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were hardly nan headliners of nan waste and acquisition that sent 10-time All-Star defender James Harden to nan Los Angeles Clippers connected Wednesday. But pinch talks betwixt nan Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers astatine a standstill, nan Thunder wiggled their measurement into nan woody pinch a calculated bet that could salary disconnected handsomely down nan road.

The Sixers reportedly wanted nan Clippers' 2028 unprotected first-round pick, a first-round prime switch and Terance Mann aliases different first-round pick, while nan Clippers were balking astatine nan inclusion of Mann aliases their 2030 first-rounder. To push nan woody complete nan decorativeness line, nan Clippers sent an unprotected 2027 first-round prime switch to nan Thunder, who shipped 1 of their 3 2026 first-round picks to nan Sixers.

The Sixers will person nan worst of nan Thunder, Clippers aliases Rockets' (top-four-protected) 2026 first-round picks. In exchange, nan Thunder "will person nan opportunity to switch 2027 first-round picks pinch nan Clippers if L.A.’s unprotected first-round prime is much favorable than Oklahoma City aliases Denver’s (top-five protected) 2027 first-round picks," according to a press release from nan team.

The Thunder are taking a consequence pinch this deal, arsenic there's nary guarantee that they'll get to return advantage of that 2027 swap. If nan Clippers re-sign Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George adjacent summer, erstwhile each 3 either tin aliases will go free agents, they mightiness beryllium 1 of nan NBA's starring title contenders for nan adjacent fewer years.

In essence, nan Thunder are betting against that. Given nan property and wounded histories of nan Clippers' halfway players, that's a reasonable bet to take.

P.J. Tucker, whom nan Clippers acquired pinch Harden, is turning 39 successful May. Russell Westbrook, who re-signed pinch nan Clippers connected a two-year statement this past summer, is turning 35 connected Nov. 12. Harden turns 35 adjacent August, George will beryllium 34 successful May, and Leonard will move 33 adjacent June.

Since bringing successful some Leonard and George successful nan summertime of 2019, nan Clippers person won astatine slightest 40 games successful each of nan past 4 seasons, moreover though 2 of them were shortened because of nan Covid-19 pandemic. They've made nan playoffs successful 3 of those 4 years, pinch nan lone objection being nan 2021-22 campaign, which Leonard missed to retrieve from a torn ACL.

However, Leonard has missed astatine slightest 15 games successful each play since 2017-18, and he made it clear during media time this twelvemonth that it wasn't because of load management. George has yet to play much than 56 games successful a play since 2018-19, too. The summation of Harden should thief trim nan strain connected them offensively, but it's adjacent to beryllium skeptical of their expertise to enactment patient aft nan past fewer years.

If catastrophe befalls nan Clippers complete nan adjacent fewer years, nan Thunder will now person nan authorities to their first-round picks successful some nan 2026 and 2027 drafts. By nan 2026-27 season, Harden will beryllium 37, George will beryllium 36 and Leonard will beryllium 35, truthful it's unclear really effective each 3 will be—if they're moreover still successful L.A. by that point.

The Thunder entered nan 2023-24 play sitting connected an unprecedented haul of early picks—15 first-rounders and 20 second-rounders complete nan adjacent 7 years, to beryllium exact. Although nan NBA's caller corporate bargaining statement allows teams to motion a 3rd subordinate to a two-way statement each year, roster spots are progressively going to beryllium astatine a premium for OKC successful nan coming years. There's virtually nary measurement they'll beryllium capable to walk each of those draught picks and compression that galore caller players onto their roster, peculiarly pinch nan likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren looking for illustration semipermanent keepers.

At immoderate point, nan Thunder will request to statesman consolidating immoderate of their assets, though wide head Sam Presti appears to beryllium in nary immense hurry to do so. By flipping 1 of their 2026 first-rounders for this unprotected 2027 prime swap, they're perchance wasting 1 of those assets conscionable for nan chance of a higher-upside pick.

But if nan Thunder expect to beryllium firmly successful nan playoff operation by 2026, they mightiness beryllium sending nan Sixers their ain pick, which figures to beryllium location successful nan 20s. They'll past person nan opportunity to switch either their ain prime aliases Denver's top-five-protected prime pinch nan Clippers' first-rounder successful 2027, which could person tremendous upside.

In essence, nan Thunder are trading a dime for a 10% changeable astatine a dollar. There's a higher-percentage chance that it doesn't activity retired successful their favor, but considering wherever they are successful their rebuild and nan plus excavation that they've accumulated, there's small harm successful taking shots for illustration these erstwhile nan opportunity arises. The upside is excessively tantalizing to move down.

Unless different noted, each stats via, PBPStats, Cleaning nan Glass aliases Basketball Reference. All net accusation via Spotrac aliases RealGM. All likelihood via FanDuel Sportsbook.

Copyright © PAPAREAD.COM 2024