Should Thunder Consider a Harden Trade?
Imagine if the Thunder approach next season’s trade deadline with a record like 43-9 and suddenly flip James Harden for, say, J.J. Redick and two or three first-round picks — including at least one of Orlando’s picks, likely to land very high in the lottery.
The motivation would be obvious: Save long-term money while keeping the team as competitive as possible in the 2012-13 title race. As I went over yesterday, the Thunder would face a tax bill for 2013-14 and 2014-15 of at least $7.5 million per year, and likely a few million more, if they grant Harden a new max-level contract and retain Kendrick Perkins. Things might get easier after 2014-15, when deals attached to Perkins and Nick Collison expire, but the Thunder would still have something like $65 million committed to just four players. Could they fill the rest of the roster while remaining under the tax in the long-term?