Rohde - Definitely cheers, followed by groans if he starts pouring in a bunch of points. However, if Harden gets into any kind of confrontation with a Thunder player, he’ll get booed out of the gym.
Tramel - I think Harden will be cheered mightily. No reason why he wouldn’t. Harden doesn’t even play for a team that could be considered a threat to the Thunder. Harden was incredibly popular, and I think the fans will respond accordingly. Now, next year? The year after? He’ll just be someone that we used to know. See Chris Paul.
Slater - There are a few fanaticals genuinely beat up by the way Harden left, saying publicly that he was willing to sacrifice but proving otherwise. And they may boo. But that will be heavily drowned out by the 90 percent of Thunder fans who care more about three years worth of great memories than a behind the scenes preseason trade saga. We might even see some beards.
4. Five years from now, who’s the better NBA player: James Harden or Russell Westbrook?
Mayberry - That is a great question. Largely because Harden, in many ways, is the better player today. Not the more dominant player. But the better player. Harden is a better shooter, a better passer, more efficient, makes better decisions and even has shown more improvement out of the two defensively. In five years, will Westbrook have caught up? Or by then will Harden have maxed out and become just another above average player putting up numbers on a bad team? It ought to be a fascinating thing to follow in the years ahead.
Rohde - The same answer as who’s the better player five minutes from now: Russell Westbrook.
Tramel - Russell Westbrook. Getting better every year and started ahead. He’s going to play in about 100 major playoff games over the next five years. Harden might not play in any. I love James Harden. But I love Russell Westbrook more. I think the Thunder feels exactly the same.
Slater - From a production standpoint, I actually think Harden will be the better player. He’s dynamic and smooth, bringing a consistent ease that translates better over an 82-game stretch. And he impacts the game in more ways. But that’s not a knock on Westbrook. They’ll both be top-15 players for years to come, still a half-decade away from their athletic primes. And Westbrook will remain the more relevant star, playing high-drama playoff ball while Harden reminisces with his boys on ‘that one time I played in the Finals.’