Today’s NBA is about superstars aligning together to create the best team. It’s the reason the Miami Heat have three of the league’s top players. It’s also the same thing for all of the other top teams. You need three stars to win.
So what’s a team to do when they don’t have a superstar?
The Houston Rockets tried to attract Dwight Howard in a trade earlier this offseason. He declined because they didn’t have a strong foundation like the Los Angeles Lakers or Brooklyn Nets.
Thus, trading for James Harden was the smartest thing the Rockets could do. Is he a superstar? Close, but not quite. Yet he’s a start. Harden can attract other top players to join him.
Trading for Harden wasn’t about winning the NBA Championship this year because only the Lakers, Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder have a chance for that. Sure, they traded away some nice pieces in Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and a probable lottery pick. But unless that pick is in the top-three, or a player is a superstar, then why would you care when you have no chance of changing your fortune in the NBA?
To compete for a NBA Championship, you need three star players. The Rockets got one step closer by acquiring Harden. That’s why they got the better end of this trade.
It’s not very often a team gets rid of a star player when they were so close to winning it all a season ago. But that’s exactly what the Oklahoma City Thunder did when they traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets, and I think they are better for it.
James Harden did play a large role in the Thunder’s success last year, but it became apparent Harden wanted a maximum contract, and the Thunder were not able to offer this. Thus, it appeared if they didn’t trade him, they would lose him for nothing when his contract expired. Instead, the Thunder acquired veteran Kevin Martin and rookie Jeremy Lamb in the deal, along with 3 draft picks for Harden.
Kevin Martin will have the tough task of replacing Harden as the Thunder’s 6th man, but I believe he will have success in this role. Though he’s not the same player he was when he was in Sacramento a few years back, he still averaged 17 points a game last season. Martin will fit in nicely as the sixth man, and provide a strong veteran presence on this young Thunder team.
The Thunder are just as good after this trade as they were before it, and, with Durant and Westbrook, they should still be the favorites to come out of the Western Conference.