James Harden to Houston Rockets: Defending Thunder's Decision to Move Guard

Justin Welton@JustinWeltonAnalyst IIOctober 28, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 17:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder stands on court with his head down in the second half against the Miami Heat in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Oklahoma City dropped a bombshell on the opening of the 2012-13 NBA season by trading James Harden, the 23-year-old reigning Sixth Man of the Year Award winner, to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and draft picks.

The move is receiving plenty of criticism. Here are just a few things we have seen thus far:

Here is one from Lakers Nation.

That wasn't an Earthquake in LA, that was OKC fans falling to their knees finding out about the James Harden trade. #MuHaHa

— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) October 28, 2012

And this one from Carl Landry.

James Harden? Is That Trade Real?

— Carl Landry (@CarlLandry) October 28, 2012

And this one from Malik Allen.

Lol man. OKC might have got the worse defensive player in the league. Not to mention at that spot! My goodness.

— Malik Allen (@THEleekAllen30) October 28, 2012

I think you get the point. Every person and their grandmother associated with the NBA had something to say, and 99 percent of it was negative.

Let's defend the trade. Let's defend the decision.

While I can't defend the timing of the trade, which was horrific considering team chemistry, there are parts that you can defend.


Harden is leaving next year anyway

I know the argument is simple: Why not go at it one more year with the trio of Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant? That part is difficult to defend, but maybe the Thunder thought this was the best deal for now and the future?

Harden is coming off a year where he won the Sixth Man of the Year Award, a gold medal and averaged 16.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.1 rebounds per game. 

Was his value going to increase tremendously this season? Why not capitalize on an ownership group with several picks, quality players and pressure from the fans to win now?

Houston gave away a lot here. Oklahoma City took advantage of a situation that was happening sooner or later. Harden's value may have increased this season but it very well could have dropped, too. We will never know.

Better safe than sorry. 


Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb

Martin is a top-20 or -30 shooting guard in the NBA. He averaged 17 points last season and 18.4 throughout his eight-year NBA career. Five times Martin has averaged over 20 points.

Scoring production from the bench will be there from Martin this season. Yes, defense and rebounding won't be there because Martin is more of a finesse player. However, finesse players can thrive coming off the bench.

Lamb is the x-factor in terms of the players received. Lamb was a first round pick in 2012, he is 6'5" with great scoring potential and he's only 20 years old. Talk about a high ceiling.


Draft Picks

I get it. Draft picks are something teams rebuilding look for. I understand.

However, this trade was about the present, but it was more about the future. This may upset fans, but give me a second.

Los Angeles loaded up with Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison in the offseason. With Kobe Bryant on the downside of his career, he and the Lakers are going all-in this season. Bryant will be retiring in the next few seasons, potentially leaving the team to Howard.

They went all-in. 

Miami has LeBron James in his prime and Dwyane Wade in his prime, but on the wrong side of it. He won't be there in a couple more seasons. 

San Antonio's big three are aging by the day, and despite being young as a whole, they still run the show. They probably won't be a legitimate contender for an NBA title with this group after this season. 

Oklahoma City's best days are ahead of them. They still have Durant and Westbrook, both signed and willing to stay a tandem. 

Now they will have two NBA first-round picks to strike oil. Plus they get Lamb, who could be striking oil.

I'll take that chance.

Imagine if they land two of those first-round picks. Both turn into stars. That would give Oklahoma City four star players (without counting the potential of Lamb and the greatness of others like Serge Ibaka). All of those stars would be under the age of 25.

In today's NBA, loading up with stars is what teams need to do to win championships. Saturday's trade opens up that possibility of landing stars in the draft.

It's a risk, but the chance they land two players greater or equal to Harden is a chance worth taking. 


    NBA Suspends Ariza, Green 2 Games

    NBA logo

    NBA Suspends Ariza, Green 2 Games

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Realistic Trade Ideas Based Off Latest Buzz

    NBA logo

    Realistic Trade Ideas Based Off Latest Buzz

    Dan Favale
    via Bleacher Report

    Isaiah Thomas Trolls Paul Pierce

    NBA logo

    Isaiah Thomas Trolls Paul Pierce

    Ryan Nagelhout
    via UPROXX

    Ariza Called Rivers and 'Hashed Everything Out'

    NBA logo

    Ariza Called Rivers and 'Hashed Everything Out'

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report