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Thunder’s GM Presti Botched Harden Trade?
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On May 18, 2013 @ 8:24 am In Headlines,NBA Headlines | No Comments
In training camp this season, the Thunder told Harden they were willing to give him $56 million over four years — and not a penny more. Harden, knowing that No. 3 draft picks who pan out and win major awards should be rewarded with max money, said no. Days later, he was $26 million richer when the Houston Rockets acquired him for free-agent-to-be Kevin Martin, the rights to Toronto’s top-3 protected 2013 pick, plus assorted flotsam.
And now look where the Thunder are — back in Tornado Alley watching the rest of the playoffs on TV after losing four straight to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Presti made the Harden trade because he wanted to save money under the cap to be able to sign Serge Ibaka to a long-term deal this summer. If the Thunder had maxed out Harden, they’d lose Ibaka.
But the flaw in that strategic planning was that Presti didn’t have to make that move prior to the season. Yes, he would have been at risk of losing Harden for nothing in free agency — but he also would have had a season to consider whether keeping Ibaka happy was more important than keeping Harden happy. By making the decision prematurely, he artificially inflated Ibaka’s value (which was quite low on the value scale when the Thunder needed Ibaka to be more of a scorer in the playoffs after Westbrook’s injury) while also removing from the roster the one player who was capable of replacing Westbrook as the primary ballhandler, distributor and secondary offensive weapon.
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