Unless you’ve been stuck under a rock for the past few days, you know that James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets for guards Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and a few first-round draft picks.
The move was made based on two things: 1) the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t want to be hit with salary cap penalties from signing Harden to a max contract and 2) Harden wanted to prove his worth as a starter instead of the sixth man role.
But what does this trade have to do with the Memphis Grizzlies? A few things actually.
First and foremost if Oklahoma City didn’t want to pay the luxury tax to keep their “Big 3” in Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant together, then Grizz fans should be prepared for a shakeup in the roster real soon. This team owes $58 million plus next year to Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley.
If Sam Presti wasn’t willing to pay the tax to keep his championship core together, you have to wonder if Rudy Gay will be traded at the deadline. Maybe new owner Robert Pera has some Mikhail Prokhorov in him, but the odds are against him. They’ve shown they can function completely without Gay in the 2011 playoffs so the trade wouldn’t hurt the team that much.
In 23 games (22 started) against the Memphis Grizzlies, newly acquired Thunder guard Kevin Martin averages 24.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per games. In contract, James Harden in 11 games only averages 14/4.5/2.6. And with the way K-Mart plays it’s safe to assume that he does in inefficiently, but it’s the opposite.
He’s shooting an astonishing 50/49/90. He performs better against Memphis than any other team in the NBA. Memphis took this Thunder team to seven games in 2011, but with Martin along for the ride this is a team that they can only hope to avoid in the playoffs. He’s a Grizzly killer and alongside Durant and Westbrook he may be more lethal.
While the Harden-to-Houston trade doesn’t directly effect the Grizzlies, the trickle down effects are quite interesting and how things play out in 2012-2013 could be based off of this trade.