Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
This is a downbeat. Proceed.
So that just happened. In one night, the whole tenor of the NBA season was altered when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future multiple draft picks. I don't want to delve into the specifics of how this affects the Thunder's chances, because that really has no bearing on the Jazz. We weren't competing with the Thunder anyway. But in short, I think the Thunder got a decent deal for the future, but are worse now than before the trade. And when you are a top 2 team in the NBA, you can't justify becoming worse.
But there are some implications for the Jazz.
Zach Lowe is absolutely right. There are a couple of teams, including Utah that could have made an equal or better offer to the Thunder. But should the Jazz have?
The deal would have been something along the lines of Paul Millsap, Alec Burks, the Golden State Pick, our own 2013 first rounder and a second rounder. Or possibly Al Jefferson and Alec Burks and the picks for Harden and Kendrick Perkins.
Would either of those trades be worth it to you? It will be interesting to see everyone's individual breakdown's of a player not on the Jazz.
As for me, I would make a trade for James Harden. I think he is a top 20 player in the NBA and he's going to be terrific for the Rockets.
For your information, if you read this yahoo story by Adrian Wojnarowski, the Jazz were never players in this trade. You should read it.
Of course, this trade also has future implications for the Jazz and how they are going to be able, or not be able, to navigate the future financial issues that having 4 great young players can cause. There are two things that lead to this trade: financial issues and issues with roles and prominence on the team. I have delved deeply into financial implications, but it is going to be very hard to 1) afford all the players and 2) keep them happy in their roles and buying into a team concept.
I maintain the fact that the Jazz will probably only be able to keep 3 of Hayward, Favors, Kanter and Burks into their extension years, so Dennis Lindsey and Kevin O'Connor will have their work cut out for them. Trading for a guy like James Harden would have been smart because it takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation, since Harden is already the player we hope Alec Burks or Gordon Hayward will one day become.
Long story short, we will be in the Thunder's relative shoes in 3 years, hopefully also competing for a title, but having to decide who to trade for younger players and smaller contracts in order to evade the luxury tax line. Because no matter what you think of the core 4's future extensions, Favors, Kanter and Hayward are going to surpass $35 million total in 3 seasons. And we will have other players as well.
On top of all of this, I found David Locke's take on the James Harden trade interesting, in terms of if the Jazz should have been in on the talks.
I love Locke's work, but I believe he has some bad information here. If the Jazz traded for James Harden and gave him a max contract at 5 years, and nearly $80 million, then they wouldn't be able to offer a 5 year max extension to any of the other players, but they could still offer any of them 4 year, max contract deals worth around $60 million. The new CBA is tricky and has some new rules. It's been tripping me up, but the Jazz would be able to max out both Harden and Favors, for instance. All academic now, but it may be important down the line. For instance, the Jazz could hypothetically give Kanter and Favors both max 4 year deals. They probably won't, but they could. And if both were worthy of those deals in 2 years...
Everybody's favorite Jazz beat writer Jody Genessy, had a fun story on the signing day, where the Jazz players autograph around 1000 pieces of memorabilia and jerseys for various charitable donations throughout the year.
On top of that, i have it under decent authority that tonight is the annual autograph party for season ticket holders. So go get some autographs and don't take it too personal when your favorite player doesn't seem to be too thrilled to be signing autographs. They probably are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Last week I gave you my top 8 western seeds. I had the Jazz finishing with the 7th seed and 48 wins. Here are a handful of other predictions as asked for by Spencer Campbell and the Utah Jazz Podcast.
Eastern Conference Playoffs and seedings:
2. Boston Celtics
3. Indiana Pacers
4. Philadelphia 76ers
5. New York Knicks
6. Brooklyn Nets
7. Atlanta Hawks
8. Chicago Bulls
Jazz All Stars- None. Sorry.
Coach of the Year- George Karl
Rookie of the Year- Anthony Davis
6th Man of the year- Kevin Martin
NBA MVP- Lebron