Kevin Durant and James Harden stopped by Grantland's BS Report with Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, which you can watch above.
In the brief clip, you can see the expected platitudes between the two players: they are close friends dating to the moment when Harden was drafted, they believed they were in the beginnings of something special, they were surprised at how quickly things changed, and they're looking forward to playing against each other in the future.
A few additional comments.
- We never really get deeper into the idea of the comparisons about how this could all play out for the league. The closest we can probably come is to look at the Shaq-Kobe Bryant Laker days, or even way back to Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury, two scenarios that ended unevenly for all parties involved. However, this scenario is different because of the original building blocks that Durant, Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka all represented; it was a drafting mother-lodethat may never get repeated.
- Everyone in the studio remarks at how quickly Harden went from being a member of the Thunder to a Houston Rocket. Perhaps this is by way of the passage of time and how stark the change was between the before and after, but it's easy to forget that the only thing 'quick' about the turn of events is how suddenly we, the fans, found out about it. If you recall, the news of the trade broke on a Saturday evening literally days before the season was to begin. This suddenness gives an air of impetuousness, but that could not have been further from the truth. The workings of the trade had been in process throughout the duration of the summer, and the game of brinkmanship between the Thunder, who wanted to offer around $54 million over 4 years, and Harden, who was looking for a max contract of about $60 million, finally came to a head. By way of various people I've communicated with over the past summer, 2 things were firmly apparent: 1) Harden would not settle for a less than max deal; and 2) the Thunder were never going to offer him a max deal.
Perhaps Harden was hurt by the rapid change in trajectory, but he was one of the parties that put it on that path.
- I don't know if this might have come up off camera, but one interesting tidbit is that Jalen Rose actually predicted this trade a day before it actually happened on NBA Countdown.
- Daily Thunder's Royce Young noted this earlier in the week, but he had grabbed a quote from Grantland's Zach Lowe last fall (you can't find it at Sports Illustrated anymore because they decided to kill all of Lowe's archived work) that laid out possible trade scenarios.
But there’s an argument to be made that Harden’s skills overlap closely enough with those of Durant and Westbrook to make a trade for the right sort of package, even in the short-term. Step back, and you can see that package taking form: Some cheaper shooting, with perhaps a dash of ball-handling creativity, and multiple high draft picks. Forget the future for a second: Is it possible the Thunder might be able to maintain their current status as (at least) Western Conference co-favorites in 2012-13 if they got that kind of package? What if Eric Maynor, forgotten after a season-ending knee injury, emerges by the trade deadline as the league’s best back-up point guard — a player with the combination of shooting and pick-and-roll creativity required to fill Harden’s role as the second-unit quarterback? And what if Perry Jones, the Thunder’s first-round draft pick, comes into his own as a second-unit force?
Furthermore, Lowe has followed up on the subject by reminding us that the trade market for Harden last year was really not as strong as we'd like to think. Yes, he was the reigning 6th Man of the Year, but Houston's offer was about as good as what was on the table. Perhaps the only thing that Presti failed to do was try to unload Perkins' contract on the Rockets as well.
- Lastly, and sadly, we Thunder fans are likely never, ever going to be able to escape this trade.