Ben Detrick of Grantland says it’s OK to hate the Thunder now: “But you’re finally allowed to hate the Thunder. It’s OK. After the franchise jettisoned Harden in a move that emphasized profits ahead of chemistry or winning or anything to do with basketball, we have been given the rare opportunity to reevaluate whether Oklahoma City deserves our allegiance. Let’s call this the Harden Schism. For those who claim that Harden should have accepted underpayment out of loyalty to his billionaire employers, the Thunder’s success will be proof that no stupid sixth man deserves the kind of contract earned by young superstars like Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, and Eric Gordon. But if you believe the trade was a cynical, foolhardy, greedy act that deprived fans of watching a fantastic young triad elevate a team to Xanadu, Oklahoma City has to suffer its comeuppance. The Thunder must lose.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports: “Why didn’t officials give him longer than an hour to consider a final four-year, $54 million offer before trading him? “After everything we established — everything we had done — you give me an hour?” Harden told Yahoo! Sports on Monday afternoon. “This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt.” Asked if additional time might have caused him to accept a deal several million dollars short of the $60 million maximum contract Harden had long sought, he responded: “Who knows? Another day, who knows what another day would’ve done?”
Let me just say this about Harden’s comments: It’s complete garbage. The Thunder made the situation especially clear to Harden days prior to trading him. It wasn’t like this happened over one hour. Harden and his agent wanted to stall OKC out so that Presti lost his trade to Houston and the Thunder were just forced to hang on to him, to which meant Harden would become a restricted free agent. Harden trying to claim he was hurt by this is so ridiculous.
Ben Golliver of SI.com on it: “With all those factors in mind, we can’t reasonably fault Presti for handling this situation as he did, and neither should Harden. Here, he’s trying to have it both ways: he wanted a total victory, or close to it, in the negotiations and he wanted at least two organizations’ best interests held up while waiting for his determination. Ultimatums concerning 23-year-old future All-Stars and fan favorites are a last resort and one borne from months of communication. If Harden was surprised by or unprepared to respond to the ultimatum when it was delivered, he has no one to blame but himself and his representative. Harden asking Presti to wait, potentially compromising the GM’s already tenuous leverage with the Rockets and any back-up plans, is less reasonable than Presti delivering his “Take it or we trade you” ultimatum.”"
Brett Pollakoff of PBT on it: “That may seem harsh, but the Thunder were just trying to shift the negotiating leverage in the team’s favor by shortening Harden’s window to accept. OKC likely knew Harden wasn’t budging off of his max deal demand, so this was one last desperate attempt to try to get him to make a quick decision that was in the team’s best interest, and not the player’s. It’s the reality of business in the NBA, no different than that of any other industry. Harden has the right to be hurt by how it all went down, but he’s clearly in a better situation in Houston — both financially and professionally. It’s time to embrace it.”
Zach Harper of CBSSports.com’s take: “After all, he had far more than an hour to decide if he wanted to re-sign with OKC before the deadline. But it makes you wonder if the Thunder had told Houston they needed one more day to give Harden time to make a decision, would the Rockets have decided a deal couldn’t be done? I would wager the answer is no. If Houston pressured the Thunder to get this done, knowing it might get them the franchise player they’ve been dying to acquire over the past couple of years then it was a brilliant strategy. Regardless, it’s fun to see Harden on his own, figuring out how to lead a team at the NBA level. He gets to have his immense talent showcased every night. I just hope the line of questioning over the next three weeks doesn’t focus about what possibly went wrong with Harden and OKC and we get to focus on the excellent play on the court.”
KD tweeted last night: “4 more! What a great night”
Zach Lowe of Grantland: “Presti has surely at least contemplated the idea that inadvertently taking a small step back wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But as I wrote after the Harden deal, finances forced Oklahoma City’s hand, and within that imposed reality, they sought a middle ground: acquire a solid complementary player that could help the team remain a real championship threat given continued development of the holdover stars, while also clearing the cap sheet and piling up more cheap young assets. Presti had the option to wait — to “go for it” with the same core — but he chose not to. That doesn’t mean he’s willingly yielding the floor to LeBron.”
Darnell Mayberry on last night: “You can see Thabeet growing more confident by the game. He talked a ton of smack tonight, most notably barking at Andrea Bargnani right to his face. When he pulled down a rebound in the first half, he yanked it from a pesky Kyle Lowry and then stared at him like he was stupid before making the outlet pass. It’s little things like that that prove he’s getting more comfortable. I can’t imagine he did a bunch of that at his previous stops.”