Oklahoma City Thunder: Analyzing the James Harden trade
I’ve used Jon Hamm in my blog before. He’s a network and systems administrator for the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation whose hobby is the NBA. Hamm follows the Thunder and contributes to Larry Coon’s website, which tries to decipher all the intricacies of the NBA labor agreement. Anyway, Hamm emailed over the weekend to offer his thoughts on the James Harden trade. He supplies insight from both the basketball and the financial side, so his views always are interesting.
Here’s what Hamm wrote: “Needless to say, as a result of last night’s trade, there are some stunned Thunder fans. There are a few things that I feel are important to understand about what led the Thunder to this decision:”
- ”Some of my friends and co-workers spoke of how Durant, Westbrook and Perkins should have renegotiated their contracts. This can’t be done in the NBA. People hear of this happening in the NFL and assume it can be done in any professional league. I’ve had more soft cap/hard cap discussions over the past month than I can count. Maybe all three would have been willing to surrender cash to secure Harden’s long-term services, but the players union fought over the years to keep it’s players from being put in this exact situation.”
- “Using the amnesty clause of Perkins never made much sense. You and I touched upon this topic over the summer. For a team that was going to be challenged financially, the prospect of paying Perkins to play elsewhere never had much real traction, in my opinion. If you look at how teams have used the amnesty provision, it’s been strategic (a move to clear cap room for a subsequent move) or the equivalent of taking an old dog behind the shed and putting it out of its misery (see Arenas, Gilbert and Davis, Baron). Teams are not using the amnesty on productive players for the sole purpose of reducing luxury taxes.” (However, I thought one scenario might have involved the Thunder trading Perkins in a deal that would bring back no salary in return.)
- “There’s some myth flying around that says a team must wait until the trade deadline or the last possible moment to make a big trade. The same myth says that by doing so, a team will get so much more in return. It’s a myth because smart basketball minds can make smart deals anytime because they understand the power of leverage. Denver managed the Melo-drama masterfully. The Magic (under Otis Smith) could not have handled the Dwight-mare any worse. The Thunder got a great haul in the Harden deal and struck while the leverage was in their favor. It reminds me of when Utah suddenly dealt Deron Williams and maximize the leverage they had at the time.
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