On Sunday, Sam Presti held a press conference to talk about the trade that sent James Harden to Houston in a multi-player deal. He opened the press conference with this statement: “I just want to take the opportunity to thank James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward, and Daequan Cook for all their contributions to the organization; both on and off the floor”
That alone was hard to take in.
However, now it’s time for the Oklahoma City Thunder and this wonderful organization to move on and take the next step in the franchise, without Harden, and try to make a run for the finals. Because at the end of the day, the Thunder still have the core of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka. Yes, it will be harder to get to the finals once again, but this team’s core is still there.
Losing Harden means that other will have to step up, and Presti hit on that: “I think Kevin Martin is a guy that is very versatile in terms of not necessarily needing the ball all the time to create plays. I think that as it is with any team when there are changes, other people emerge. And I’m looking forward to seeing the development of the other pieces of our roster. You have to think back and reflect that James really came into his own when we made significant changes to our roster with Jeff [Green]. Same can be said for Serge. I’m excited to see how our group responds.”
For now, its time to turn the page. Its time to figure out ways to make up for the scoring Harden gave the Thunder offense. Its time for Ibaka to really come through and score the ball every night. Who knows? Maybe Kevin Martin is the right guy for this team. Maybe he can give the Thunder 15 points night in and night out.
We will just have to wait and see.
-Presti on the trade itself, and why the Thunder couldn’t wait: “We also understood that once it became a reality that there wasn’t going to be a way for us to find way to keep him, we had to start thinking about what was next and what was in the best interest of this franchise both in the short and long term,” he said. “Quite honestly the value in a trade was greater based on the fact the Rockets could offer him the contract he was seeking. By doing it when we did it, I believe it will allow the Rockets to secure him and James will get the contract he was seeking and because of that, we were able to capitalize on the trade and probably get a little more than if we would’ve waited…. But at the end of the day as I said before, we’ve done a lot of deals and found a way to make it work for a lot of different people here,” he continued. “It’s a combination, a mutual interest, a give and take, finding a common ground, but sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes there’s just not a solution. It’s a difficult thing when you come to that reality that there may not be a solution to this.”