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Did Warriors, Wizards turn down James Harden deals?

Mar 15, 2013, 6:10 PM EDT

James Harden AP

Whether you choose to believe this or not really comes down to how much you believe in ESPN’s Bill Simmons.

But NBA trades do not work where a potential available player is only discussed with one team. If a GM is shopping — or even just testing the market — for a specific player then that idea is bounced off a number of teams. You don’t buy a new car by just showing up at the dealer and taking the price he offers, you check online and get a sense of the price of the car from multiple places before making a purchase. Trades work more like that.

So you can be sure that the Rockets were not the only team James Harden was shopped to before the season. The Rockets just jumped at it and had the best deal. But in his column at Grantland about the worst salaries in the NBA (which is admittedly a week old) Simmons threw in this nugget. (Hat tip to The Big Lead for finding this, I didn’t read the column.)

Multiple sources have told me that, when Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti decided to shop James Harden, Golden State was his first call. He wanted Klay Thompson and a pick. The Warriors would only consider the trade if Oklahoma City took back Biedrins or Jefferson for 2013 expirings, knowing they’d get crushed by the luxury tax in 2014 with Harden’s extension plus Steph Curry’s extension plus David Lee plus Bogut/Jefferson/Biedrins.13 At that point, Presti went to Washington (offering Harden for Bradley Beal, and unbelievably getting turned down), then Houston (where the shopping heated up). Presti never ended up calling Golden State back.

Again, what you think of this depends on what you think of Simmons. The Wizards news isn’t new. You can be sure Presti didn’t just talk to Daryl Morey about the deal, but trades also don’t happen in quite the linear fashion described. There is back and forth over time and usually one option being explored heats up. You can believe what you want, there likely is some truth here at least.

The other thing of note: When this trade went down the question was “How good is James Harden, really?” No doubt he was good, the guy had gone to the finals the year before as a key cog for the Oklahoma City Thunder. But the question was could he be a franchise anchor? He could be a No. 2, a No. 1A maybe, but in OKC Kevin Durant is the Alpha Dog. There were legitimate questions about how Harden would perform when thrown into that role.

Turns out, Harden can be the alpha dog. The guy you can build a franchise around. And the Wizards and Warriors could use a guy like that.

  1. matigol23 - Mar 15, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Both the Thunder and the Warriors would’ve gotten better with this trade. The Thunder should of called the Warriors back. Kevin Martin or K. Thompson is a no brainier.

    The Mavs should’ve made a move for him.

  2. xLith - Mar 15, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I was ecstatic when the Rockets signed him. I cheered for him on the Thunder as the Rockets had been pretty bad the last 3-4 years. Unfortunately the monopoly of Comcast SportsNet here in Houston has limited me to only watching about 3 games so far. Hopefully we hang in there for the playoff run so I can watch some more. The future finally looks bright here.

  3. dylude - Mar 15, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    In Morey, We Trust !!!

  4. lakerluver - Mar 15, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    Harden is a future superstar. The Thunder will rue the decision to trade him.

    • biasedhomer - Mar 15, 2013 at 8:16 PM

      Last I checked, the Thunder has the 3rd best record in the NBA.

      • bigmeechy74 - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:40 AM

        Last I checked, that’s an idiotic comment.

    • mytthor - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      Harden is a current superstar. But the Thunder couldn’t afford him.

    • cmehustle - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Not too sure about that. This was a money thing more than a basketball decision. But the Thunder are honestly looking pretty decent for the future. There are these two guys names Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that they have, no James Hardens obviously but they’re not too bad.

  5. trollaikman8 - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:00 PM


    let me know when this future superstar is capable of playing defense.

  6. lakerluver - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Last I checked neither does Durant or Westbrook play defense. And last I checked the Finals aren’t held in March. OKC couldn’t beat Miami with Harden but they’re going to beat them without him? Actually, I think they could have beaten them this season with him. If they were going to make a trade, they should’ve traded Westbrook instead of Harden. They won’t even make the Finals this season. Keep thinking they’re young and only need more experience, Thunder fans. That’s the same thing Portland and Sacramento both said back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

    • mytthor - Mar 15, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      Then you need to check again, because Durant and Westbrook are both solid defenders.

    • psubeerman21 - Mar 16, 2013 at 7:29 AM

      You know Westbrook is five times the player Harden is, right?

  7. sportsnut101 - Mar 15, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Wizards are idiots It’s not like harden is old yes beal might be very good but how’s lottery draft season looking for u guys again. With harden I bet u would be in 7th spot at least

    Now warriors got greedy but harden n curry play same spot so I can understand

    But thunder why u didn’t offer Westbrook for Kay n 2 picks n just sign harden to max.
    I like Westbrook a lot but he seems to remind me of marbury when he played with Garnett. Egos
    It’s durants team. So stop shooting those awful shots. Pick n choose dude

  8. bigmeechy74 - Mar 16, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    They had Ibaka, Harden, ‘Westbrook, and Durant all under 24. The youngest nucleus to ever make the finals. They threw it away. Worst trade ever.

  9. thedefinitiveman - Mar 16, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    Now I have never worked out the salaries, but what was preventing the Thunder from using the amnesty on Perkins and re-signing Harden?

    • cmehustle - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      They obviously still have use for Perkins and didnt want to pay him to just leave.

    • borderline1988 - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      Thunder have $45 million tied up every year in Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka (starting next year). Throw in Harden at a max salary and you’re at just under $60 million. That sneaks up about $3 million every year thereafter.

      They’d obviously have to amnesty Perkins if that were the case, which wastes $19 million from 2013 to 2014.

      So in summary, in those 4 players the Thunder would be above the salary cap line which greatly limits their flexibility and ability to sign role players moving forward. They would also have to throw $19 million of cash into the trash can. And Perkins is useful in certain situations, such as defending Howard.
      Instead, they keep their best 2 players and get a 15ppg guy off the bench anyways in Martin, get a host of young talent (they also have Toronto’s pick, which will likely be top-10), and have much more flexibility moving ahead to sign guys like Sefalosha or Nick Collison in 2 years. They likely also keep ownership happier.

      Obviously you can never replace the talent that is Harden and it would have been best if the Thunder could keep him. But the Thunder aren’t exactly in a bad spot right now. The move does make sense from some certain angles.

  10. southpaw77 - Mar 16, 2013 at 4:39 AM

    The question is why the Suns or Cavs didnt get involved.
    1. Phoenix has a glaring hole at shooting guard and needed a franchise guy and could have brought the AZ State product back home. Big miss there.
    2. The Cavs needed another scorer alongside Kyrie, so the question is Waiters or Harden. Harden all day.

    • cmehustle - Mar 16, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Thats all fine and dandy. But the next obvious question you seem to be missing is who does the Thunder want back in return???? Waiters?? Seriously? And I dont see anyone from Phoenix either. But I guess in your world you just accept whoever you get if your the Thunder.

  11. isujames - Mar 16, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    @^ I somewhat agree with your comment guy, if I had to choose between Westbrook and Harden the choice would be a “no brainer”, Westbrook easily.Kinda reminds me of A.I.

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