Sixth Man of the Year Award winner James Harden will be a free agent after next season—and a highly coveted one at that. However, the current rumor that he could head for Laker country is one he should squash immediately.
According to ESPN’s Chris Palmer, Harden is rumored to be willing to consider heading to Los Angeles.
While that scenario would be a Lakers fan’s dream come true, it shouldn’t happen. Going to Los Angeles would not be best for the young shooting guard. The team he is a part of in Oklahoma City and the players he’d need to coexist with in LA are just a few of the reasons why.
Building a Dynasty
It has been well-documented that the Oklahoma City Thunder are very, very good at a very, very young age. The reason is the talent of a core that includes Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Harden and Serge Ibaka.
With none of those four being over the age of 23, the Thunder could challenge for every title for the next decade in the NBA. No other NBA team has three perimeter playmakers like Durant, Westbrook and Harden, and Ibaka has the potential to become one of the best shot-blockers in NBA history.
Is that really something Harden wants to leave, simply for more money and a different jersey?
Granted, Harden could probably start for LA, but that is something that will happen in time in Oklahoma City. And even if it doesn’t, Harden already plays starter’s minutes, and we all know that is what matters. Harden is in there at the end of games, and that’s when stars shine brightest.
John Havlicek was a sixth man for a significant part of his career for the Boston Celtics. Yet, he’s probably one of the five best to ever play at his position, and he’s in the Hall-of-Fame. Harden has the potential to have a similar career if he stays with the Thunder.
Harden will have to choose between either playing for a historic franchise or helping to build a historic franchise of his own. The choice shouldn’t be too difficult.
Kobe Bryant’s Team
Even if Harden heads to LA to be the Lakers’ future, he’ll still have to deal with Kobe Bean Bryant, a Hall-of-Famer who also happens to play the same position.
Harden and Bynum together would make a great duo, but it would still be Kobe’s team. Even if Bryant’s skills have declined by then, he’s bullheaded enough to want things done his way still.
Does the Beard really want to have to deal with that? In Oklahoma City, he can share a team with fellow superstars Westbrook and Durant. In LA, he can be under Bryant’s thumb and unable to do anything about it.
Despite Harden being the future of the team, Bryant would be in charge. The only way he wouldn’t is if he was traded, which is something the Lakers probably would never do, especially if Bryant won’t get anything on the open market.
Harden should shun any suggestions or thoughts about him going to the Lakers. It would be a bad move for his career and legacy. He can build a brand new dynasty for a decade, or he can go to LA and play with Kobe Bryant for a little more money.
The choice is clear.