NBA Trade Rumors: Thunder Must Entertain Swapping Harden for Bobcats' No. 2 Pick
The Thunder shouldn't just say no way before they consider trading James Harden for Charlotte's No. 2 overall draft pick.
According to CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman, the Bobcats—who lost the lottery to the Hornets and received the No. 2 overall pick in the draft rather than the first—are shopping their selection.
Popular conception states that the Bobcats are in such dire straits that drafting a rookie, no matter how good he is, isn't going to solve their problems. They need someone with more experience, more toughness, someone who's more proven at the next level.
Someone like Harden.
Here's what Goodman has to say:
One source said that Oklahoma City's James Harden could be in play due to the Thunder's salary situation following next season. GM Sam Presti already has Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the books for more than $29 million next season—and both Harden and Serge Ibaka will command huge contracts after the 2012-13 campaign.
Now, letting go of Harden would be understandably difficult. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year was a crucial component of the Thunder's run to the NBA Finals this year. He's a fan favorite, and he embodies that scrappy toughness this OKC team is known for.
But this is a team that has built its foundation on young players, most of whom are evolving toward veteran status at this point. As they get older, these players become more difficult to retain. If the Thunder trade for Charlotte's draft pick and select, let's say, Bradley Beal...well, they're certainly not getting worse.
Beal is far and away the best backcourt prospect available in this year's draft, and he's also the most NBA ready. He has an insane amount of upside, a very high ceiling and the potential to be a lights-out, clutch shooter at the next level.
This is a player with enough bravado to say he's the next Ray Allen. He was one of the best shooters in the NCAA last season, and he hasn't even reached his potential yet.
Should the Thunder trade Harden for Charlotte's No. 2 pick?
Think about what Beal would do for someone like Russell Westbrook, who takes far too many shots and probably feels like he has to. It gives Westbrook someone to take some—a lot—of the load off. It gives him another talented shooter to distribute to.
You could say that if Harden transitions into the starting lineup, he has the potential to have the same impact—but if the Thunder aren't going to be able to keep Harden once his contract expires anyway, then why not make this move?
This is just about as good a value as they can get for Harden.
If the Thunder trade for Charlotte's pick, they get a player who will keep them just as competitive as they are now and will probably make them even better. Beal will help everyone on the team improve.
With him, Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the Thunder just might look even more unbeatable than they did this year.
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