6 min read

Tuesday Bolts – 10.30.12

Tuesday Bolts – 10.30.12

Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak: “Welcome to the future you’ve created, James, and perhaps to looking back and wondering “what if.” Thank goodness only my family and a few friends have probably ever even considered my brief post-grad life and wondered how else it might have gone. Harden’s choice will be endlessly analyzed by strangers, possibly for years to come. We know he made a life-changing decision, but we know almost nothing about the life to come. Being 23 is all about learning to live with all the doors that, as time advances, close around you even as the future blossoms. If James Harden doesn’t already know that, he will soon. His career is in rarified air, miles high. He’s made his decision and taken control of his career. Here’s hoping he makes the most of it.”

Tom Ziller of SB Nation on Harden and money: “I’m not James Harden, but I know he was asked to give up $6 million for the good of a very small collective, and he said no, and that’s good enough for me. He’s going to get even more money as a result. That’s good enough for me. I’m going to stay out of his wallet and reject the idea that I would do it differently, because I wouldn’t. Chances are, no matter how strongly you object to Harden’s decision, you wouldn’t either. Be honest with yourself, and the truth will set you free.”

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has KD winning MVP: “Durant was my pick even before GM Sam Presti decided to trade Harden to Houston because Presti couldn’t meet the dynamic wing’s contract demands. And as much as it appears that LeBron has a stranglehold on the MVP trophy, Durant is at a point in his career where significant leaps in productivity and dominance remain very much within reach. Plus, with Harden gone, OKC will rely even more on Durant for scoring, which will only help his MVP resume.”

Lee Jenkins in SI.com’s predictions: “I had the Thunder a week ago, but without James Harden, it will be more difficult for them to secure home-court advantage, which is so crucial to their chances. They are still much deeper than the Lakers, but the margin is not what it was, and their two-and-a-half stars will have to match up with L.A.’s four. The Lakers, as evidenced by their 0-8 preseason, will require time to find a rhythm. But now the Thunder will need an acclimation period as well. The Lakers, who have proved they can win on the road in the playoffs, will work out the kinks by April. They have the experience, the motivation and the surplus of late-game options to thrive in the postseason. They also have the size and point-guard savvy to face down the Heat in an epic Finals.”

Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell: “With contract negotiations breaking down over a max contract extension the small market Thunder could ill-afford, general manager Sam Presti sent Harden to the Houston Rockets for a comparable but less versatile scorer, an intriguing prospect, and cap space and flexibility to adjust its roster in the future. In doing so, Presti moved the now popular Oklahoma City Thunder model a little further away from its San Antonio Spurs origins. After all, even against the cap in his last contract season, the Spurs never had to trade their own Manu Ginobili. Now in probably Ginobili’s last contract season, the Spurs likely never will.”

Simmons and Zach Lowe talking Harden.

Darnell Mayberry: “My second impression of Martin after a media scrum interviewed him for the first time today: “What a pleasure!” Martin is actually a player who’s unafraid to express himself in the media. He’s an effective communicator, he’s introspective and he’s comfortable in his own skin. In other words, he’s an adult. And that’s so refreshing to have on this team among a bunch of young 20-somethings who are overly cautious of not crossing the company line.”

Replacements for Harden’s beard.

Brett Koremenos for Grantland on OKC’s signature set: “Though Durant can definitely improve as a playmaker, the top-of-the key iso will still be OKC’s go-to action at the end of quarters and games. And despite the rise of empirical data shedding light on the inefficiencies of hero-ball ploys like this, there will still be plenty of anxious coaches when the Thunder call this play with a game on the line.”

John Hollinger of ESPN.com revises his predictions: “Keeping Martin’s other adjustments the same (dings for injury proneness and defense), using my standard rookie score for Jeremy Lamb (here, I leave my ad-libs out of it and estimate a performance based purely on draft position) and tweaking minutes for other players to adjust for the Thunder likely playing a bit more smallball, and I end up at 54 wins for the Thunder. That’s a four-win drop, and at the margin you can see the impact this might have on their title chances — 58 wins screams contender, while 54 hints more meekly at the chance of a deep playoff run. While it doesn’t affect their projected seeding at all, the Thunder grade out as a less-formidable regular-season outfit, and that carries over to how well they project for the postseason, too.”

Beckley Mason of TrueHoop looking at Kevin Martin’s efficiency: “While he won’t replace Harden’s individual playmaking, he will absolutely be able to capitalize on mismatches and opportunities created by his explosive teammates. With Harden there was always the sense that he was being held back by virtue of the amount Westbrook handled the ball. That’s rare for a shooting guard, but then only Manu Ginobili and Kobe Bryant share Harden’s playmaking acumen as shooting guards. In Kevin Martin, the Thunder have a less dynamic player, but a tremendous scorer. It will be on Eric Maynor, Westbrook and Durant to pick up the playmaking slack.”

Harden’s full introductory press conference where Daryl Morey acts really weird.

Dave Zirin of The Nation on small markets: “While Harden is slammed and Presti cries the tears of the crocodile, Bennett gets to be the Bain Capital of owners: harvesting teams for profits and then throwing away their dried husks when profit margins are under any kind of threat. David Stern will retire in February 2014, but his legacy will be felt for decades to come, and it’s a legacy that has cultivated a coterie of owners that put fans and communities last. The Harden trade is just a symptom of the disease.”

Matt Moore of CBSSports.com: “At the end of the day, this whole thing might as well have been scripted. There’s an uncertain future for how the Thunder go forward, where Houston goes from here, what Harden’s career will look like and if anyone will regret this trade went down. But from the position of where all three parties were, there was never a choice, never an option. This was what had to happen.”

Serge Ibaka tweets: “So, No electricity in NYC? #LiKEinCongo”

Marc Stein of ESPN.com with new power rankings: “The Thunder certainly got a lot back for Harden, but something they surrendered in Saturday night’s blockbuster trade that wasn’t mentioned in the press release is a chunk of chemistry/continuity edge they had over L.A. Which is why OKC just dipped two spots.”

Exchanging emails with Rahut Huq of Red 94: “In a winning culture like Oklahoma City’s, in a contract year, there’s no doubt Martin will do as he is told. I expect him to thrive this season with the Thunder – he’s looked better than ever this preseason, even exerting effort on the defensive end. Few players in history have been able to get on base like Martin. It became a regular thing at Toyota Center to look up and see a ’25′ spot next to Martin’s name after wondering where he had been all night. Martin can handle, but he can’t really create, even for himself. He gets his shots early and quickly, baiting defenders with fakes, spotting up inside, or driving in either direction for a fading bank off the glass. He likes contact. One of Martin’s best traits is that he works quickly. This is not a ball stopper. On the other hand, Kevin Martin will not be scoring off his own dribble against pressure defense. That’s not his game. I’m most curious to see how he fares in the postseason when officials swallow their whistles and he is bailed out less often.”

Clark Matthews of The Lost Ogle: ” For all the lip service fans pay to saying they understand it’s a business, this is the first experience with actually seeing the Thunder run like a business. The relationship with players that resembled those with college athletes–who rarely leave unless they are no longer welcome–has crumbled. It will be interesting to see how the sudden maturing of the Thunder fans manifests.”