With the trade that sent James Harden and a flurry of pointless bench warmers to the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City may have just found their flaw in the system every NBA team gushes over. A small-market team can't go all-in.
It isn't the fact that you traded Harden away, it's the timing of the move that has baffled me and countless others. Three nights before opening tip, and OKC decides to ship out 25 percent of its main core.
Here are a few reasons as to why Oklahoma City just robbed themselves.
They Just Lost a Best Friend
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Harden were the three best friends that anyone could have. They enjoyed playing with each other on the court, and would constantly hang out and hit up the XBOX off the court. That kind of chemistry, especially in any professional sports league, is almost unheard of.
Yes, the Thunder received an impressive haul with Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and three very good draft picks. Now, if those draft picks pan out, they could be even better in two years, right? Lamb can easily become a more athletic Harden, right? Martin will easily be able to fill Harden's shows on the court, right?
Wrong. Oklahoma City has already been down the path of potential, and it turned into four very young and very good basketball players. They just got rid of the fourth one to save some dough.
Offense or Defense: Something's Gotta Give
Martin can score, we know that much. But what else can he do? He can't penetrate like Harden, he can't defend like Harden and he doesn't have a Beard Like Harden. Also, Martin had Kyle Lowry tossing him the rock last year. And no knock on Westbrook, but just because he is the better player does not mean Lowry isn't the better point guard. Harden was at his best with Westbrook on the bench.
And leave Lamb out of this. I've already discussed how pointless it is to trade away an Olympian for potential in the Thunder's current position.
But what about Thabo Sefolosha? He's a damn good perimeter defender! But can he score? We all know that Sefolosha isn't the biggest offensive weapon on the Thunder, but in no way will his defensive presence help on offense minus the occasional corner 3-pointer.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat
Remember when there were three NBA title contenders to start the season? I do, because it was yesterday morning. Now LeBron and Kobe are breathing a sigh of relief. Their top competition just screwed around with their chemistry days before tip off.
When LeBron goes cold, Wade steps up. When Wade goes cold, Bosh steps up.
When Kobe goes cold, Howard will step up. When Howard goes cold, Pau will step up. When Pau goes cold, Nash will step up.
Who's going to step up when Durant and Westbrook go cold? Martin is now the third-best scorer on the team. Good luck with that.
I see the reasons as to why Sam Presti pulled the trigger on this deal, but I still don't understand why he wouldn't have waited a little bit longer. Operation Sports Senior Staff Writer TD St. Matthew-Daniel made a good point on Twitter about why they may have pulled the trigger.
But for now, we can argue and we can debate. One thing is for certain, though: Oklahoma City just took a step back from winning the 2013 NBA Championship.
Dustin Toms is OS' Senior Editor. For insight on professional sports and sports gaming news, follow him on Twitter at @DustinToms_OS.