Per Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Magic have talked to OKC but Thunder balks at giving up Ibaka and Harden to rent Dwight.”
Chew on that for a second.
Trade James Harden and Serge Ibaka to have Dwight Howard for two months and the playoffs. And then realize this: The Thunder giving up any player, much less Harden and Ibaka to rent Howard pretty much goes against the entire organization’s philosophy. Everything Sam Presti has done has been centered around the idea of long-term, sustained success. It’s been a plan of bringing in players that can grow, learn, mature and evolve together into a team that will be successful for the next 10 years.
But… but. Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Nick Collison and Dwight Howard. Not a bad look, eh? A lot of people say that would put OKC in the driver’s seat to win a title now. And it probably would. But who says they aren’t already there? We’re all frantically searching for flaws in this team, but 31-8 and still improving tells me this group is certainly the conversation for a championship. Will they win it? No guarantees. But the same goes for a Westbrook-KD-Howard trio.
And that’s the thing. Say the Thunder made the trade and brought Howard to town. And say he even re-signs with OKC. If that group never won a title, wouldn’t you wonder about what the Thunder gave up? Wouldn’t it drive you crazy thinking about if OKC had stood its ground and believed in the plan, if that was good enough already? I know I would.
Plus, I’m kind of partial to Harden. That’s part of it. I really like the guy. I like what he represents, I like his game, I like his approach, I like his mentality. I think having him makes the Durant-Westbrook relationship better. Mix a potentially hazardous chemical like Dwight Howard to it and I fear we might get something toxic.
Then there’s the point that Thunder might be renting Harden and Ibaka for the next 14 months anyway. True. But that’s under the assumption that Clay Bennett is morally opposed to breaking into the luxury tax and that’s under the assumption that Presti can’t finagle around and find a way to make it happen (i.e. amnestying Perk, etc.).
(Relevant note: I would put the percentage chance of a deal happening involving Howard and the Thunder somewhere between Kate Upton proposing to me tonight and Presti giving me a 10-day contract. So it’s really all in just fun speculation.)
(Relevant note, part two: This is of course operating under the assumption it would be a rental for Howard. If he’s willing to re-sign long-term, well, that certainly changes things.)
Dan Shanoff and I were gchatting and he said it really well. Flags fly forever. The Mavericks are going to enjoy their title for the rest of time. And if acquiring Howard meant the Thunder would win a championship, that’s what you do. You play to win that trophy and you win them one at a time. Of course you want to win them on your own terms and there would be something a little sweeter in doing it with this core that was built through the draft and with shrewd cap management, but at the end of the day, it’s about raising a banner. If you could guarantee adding Howard does that, I don’t see any way around it. You do it.
But that’s the problem. There aren’t any guarantees in sports. None. You can’t know. There’s no Gray’s Sports Almanac to tell us. You make informed decisions on what you think is best and go from there. I believe this team right here is good enough to win the whole thing. And I kind of want to see them try.