Bill Simmons writes at Grantland a variety of trade possibilities that go across the NBA landscape. It is a fun read because Simmons combines his acumen for creating manageable trade proposals with a monetary value of what the player's ability might actually be worth. It helps make his "never trade a dollar for 3 quarters" analogy a bit more comprehensive.
It really isn't germane to the overall point of his lengthy post, but Simmons did drop a few nuggets within that speak to how he sees the Thunder:
$2 bill: Reserved for "untradeable" stars, the ones who can't be moved unless it's for another "untradeable" guy (and even then, it's not likely). This year's list: Wade, LeBron, Durant, Howard, Dirk, Griffin, and Rose. That's it. I like the symmetry of the $2 bill here: You never see $2 bills and you never see untradeable stars get traded unless their franchise totally screwed up.
Kevin Durant's place in this category makes sense. If you go all the way back to Simmons' Trade Value column, you can see that Durant is in his top three. I doubt that Durant's playoff run would deter him from falling out of this category. I think that while Durant struggled at times, he clearly demonstrated that what he lacks now is not basketball ability, but basketball know-how. Since we know that the Thunder front office sees Durant as the cornerstone for whatever they do, Durant's place in this category of "untradeable" stars seems secure for the next decade. I honestly cannot even see another superstar player on the NBA landscape for which the Thunder would be willing to even consider moving Durant. The closest might be Dwight Howard, but it is clear that Howard sees himself as sort of a new-age, larger than life Shaquille O'Neal disciple, and I doubt he'd be content moving to Oklahoma City. Durant, on the other hand, seems made and raised for the genteel life of OKC.
Silver dollar: All-Stars, inexpensive soon-to-be All-Stars, slightly overpaid All-Stars, or indispensable playoff guys who aren't quite as desirable as an actual one-dollar bill. In the 2011 trade value column, this group covers everyone from no. 14 (Kevin Love) to no. 27 (Eric Gordon). Let's also make Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Andrew Bynum, James Harden, and Marc Gasol silver dollars...
In this short throw-away comment, Simmons once again reveals his changing attitude toward James Harden. As we noted in Harden's end of season grading, Simmons has done a 180 on Harden. I know that Simmons has been tied up with his Grantland launch and so has not been able to cover the NBA playoffs to the extent that he'd probably like, but this is certainly one of those things that we'd love to understand better. How did Harden go, in Simmons mind, from "he's not good!" to a guy he considers a potential soon-to-be All-Star, or at the very least an indispensable playoff performer? That is a huge arc in a player's progression, and I can't say that I'd even disagree with him. Harden's transformation from an unsure player to arguably the 3rd most important player on the Thunder's playoff roster was as unexpected as it was thrilling. Hopefully after things settle down at Grantland (and we hopefully look toward the 2011-12 season), Simmons will be willing to fill in the blanks.
The Perkins/Green trade: Perkins (50 cents) and Robinson (nickel) for Green (quarter), Krstic (nickel), and a future no. 1 from the Clips (quarter). Since Perkins' post-trade extension flipped him from a 50-cent piece to a quarter, you could argue Boston won the trade ... as long as you don't include the part that it killed their season, ruined their chemistry, and caused them to lose in the second round of the playoffs to the most despised team in 20 years. Hold on, I'm going to kick my dog in the ribs.
Yup, this is our Bill Simmons.