Why Thunder's Acquisition of Jimmer Would Spell End for James Harden in OKC

Kyle Ramos@Kyle_RamosCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22: James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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First things first: James Harden is currently a much better player than Jimmer Fredette right now. I know that, you know that and the Oklahoma City Thunder certainly know that.

However, Fredette has only played one lockout-shortened season with no training camp for the rookies, so his potential is a big question mark right now. With the current log-jam in the Sacramento Kings' backcourt right now, though, his days rocking the purple and black may already be nearing the end.

Sam Amico of Fox Sports has recently reported that Fredette wouldn't mind seeking employment elsewhere, and that the Thunder would be interested in bringing him into OKC. 

The Thunder recently signed starting power forward Serge Ibaka to a lucrative but reasonable contract extension, leaving James Harden as the last man not locked up for the foreseeable future in Oklahoma City.

Is it still possible that the Thunder can re-sign Harden and stay under the salary cap? Absolutely. However, Thunder GM Sam Presti is a very crafty man and he will prepare for the future if he thinks something may go wrong.

Preparing for a possible worst-case scenario is exactly why Presti and the Thunder have thrown their name into the hat for Jimmer. 

If Harden does decide that he wants more money than the Thunder can offer and decides to leave town for a max deal, the only other shooting guards OKC will have left will be Thabo Sefolosha and Daequan Cook. That doesn't exactly scream "championship contender," so Oklahoma City may find themselves looking for a backup plan.

Depending on how contract talks go with Harden throughout the season, OKC may be forced to look elsewhere, and while acquiring Jimmer Fredette would be a gamble, it could prove to be a classic Presti move.

Getting Fredette would essentially be the white flag from OKC that they don't plan on retaining James Harden, but all hope wouldn't be lost.

There is still a possibility that if Harden makes it clear during the season that he will be signing elsewhere next summer, the Thunder could deal him and see what they could get in return. However, his trade value would go down immensely with an expiring deal, so don't expect Oklahoma City to get themselves an equal player in return.

That's why the possible acquisition of Jimmer Fredette could be very beneficial to the Thunder since he is a young player on his rookie contract with a ton of expectations to fulfill. 

He had a historic college career at BYU, becoming one of the nation's biggest non-pro sensations with his high-scoring games and undefinable shooting range. However, Jimmer didn't see that similar success in his rookie season, often looking unconfident or uncomfortable on the floor.

Will he ever be the same kind of player Harden is right now or even in the same tier as Harden? It may be too early to tell. 

What Jimmer would bring to the table may not help the Thunder nearly as much as what Harden is currently doing, but the potential to do so is certainly there.

Ideally, Oklahoma City would love to keep Harden and let Jimmer go through all of his growing pains in Sacramento. However, with the way their salaries are shaking out, they may not have the means to do that.

If Harden does decide to stay for a slightly cheaper deal than he would be able to get from another shooting guard-hungry team, then don't ever expect to see Fredette rumors anywhere near the Thunder.

As of right now, these speculations and rumors are exactly that, and nothing is set in stone for the next few seasons for Harden and the Thunder. Until contract talks break down with James Harden or the Thunder need to find some more shooting from the perimeter, a possible deal sending Jimmer Fredette to the Thunder may never materialize. If it does come about, however, don't expect to see him and Harden playing together for very long.