Darnell Mayberry: “If you’re like me, you’re wondering why the Thunder showed up like that. It could have been something simple, such as the Thunder knowing Josh Smith was back in Atlanta with a sprained ankle. Or it could have been something a tad more complex, something I’m sure nobody wants to hear and even fewer people will want to believe — such as the Thunder came back content and complacent following last year’s trip to the Finals. Perhaps these players feel they’ve arrived. Feel they can just show up and stomp on a starless club. If it’s the latter, it’d be the second worst thing that can happen to this Thunder season.”
Scoop Jackson of ESPN.com on storylines: “2. The Story: James Harden scores 37 points and has 12 assists in his Houston debut, and OKC should have never traded him. The Real But Selectively Forgotten Truth: Harden did an A-Rod in the 2012 NBA Finals, and it was the wrong time for him to go into contract negotiations for an extension looking for a max deal. Harden picked a bad time to play the worst basketball of his career. OKC had no other option but to do what they did. They offered him $55 million over four years, a fair offer without knowing if what happened in the Finals was an anomaly or if was he the type of player that would continually fold under the Finals lights. When you are a team that is trying to win a championship and are in the mix to do so for the next few years, you can’t take a financial gamble or make a five-year, $80 million investment on/in a guy that didn’t come through when you needed him the most. And at the same time, it is stupid and incompetent business if you let him go without getting anything of substance in return. Clayton Bennett is not trying to be Dan Gilbert.”
Berry Tramel: “The Harden trade messed with the Thunder’s chemistry, no doubt. Foreman Scotty still is mixing and matching, trying to figure out how to play his revamped second unit. But maybe the trade messed with the Thunder psyche even more. Despite Perk’s proclamation, maybe the Boomers have been like the rest of us. So focused on how Martin will replace Harden, they’ve forgotten what made them great in the first place.”
Anyone want Kenyon Martin? I don’t think you can have two K-Mart’s. It would be like having two T-Bones.
Eddie Johnson of HoopsHype on Westbrook: “I watched him this summer concentrate on defense. If he wanted, he could make the All-Defensive 1st Team with ease. He showed during the Finals he can dominate offensively and quieted those who constantly want him to acquiesce to the talents of Durant.”
Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Thank you, Thunder. Thank you, Rockets. OKC residents increasingly freaked out about how good James Harden has looked since he left town are exempt here, but the majority of you have to concede that the speedier-than-expected conclusion to the Harden Saga should do a lot for our collective sanity. Instead of months’ worth of suffocating trade speculation had the Thunder kept Harden without extending his contract, like what happened the last two seasons from Day 1 of training camp up through the trading deadline courtesy of the Melodrama and then the Dwightmare, OKC and Houston swiftly consummated their megadeal before the first ball was tossed up for real. Mercifully.”
John Schuhmann of NBA.com: The Thunder are struggling a bit offensively to start the season, but James Harden’s departure doesn’t have much to do with it. The starting lineup has been the biggest problem, scoring just 90.5 points per 100 possessions in 49 minutes so far. OKC has actually been pretty potent offensively (106.9) with Kevin Martin, who is 12-for-17 from 3-point range, on the floor.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation: “Okay, so no one predicted Harden would be averaging 35 points per game. And he won’t all season long. But he’s an easy 20-ppg scorer, and my suggestion he could challenge old friend Kevin Durant for the scoring title is looking less like a lark. He’s a scoring machine. The funny thing is that he was a scoring machine when he was backing up Thabo Sefolosha in Oklahoma City. He just played fewer minutes than other scoring machines, and thus saw his total per-game scoring numbers sit lower than players he was clearly better than.”
Little something: I’m doing a weekly one hour radio show on The Spy FM/KOSU. It’s live here at 1 PM and will re-broadcast on KOSU at 7 PM.