As a lifelong Oklahoman, it's been a fun time to see the Thunder arrive in OKC and rise as one of the premier teams in the league. I'm no stranger to how the business of professional sports works -- but many Oklahomans got their first true taste of what happens when you are a small market team facing a financial dilemma.
You give up some ground now in order to fight again tomorrow.
The Thunder didn't exactly eliminate themselves from contention, but they certainly took a small step backwards towards the pack. The Spurs and Lakers both have to be very happy that their competition just traded a huge piece to their team's success.
And Houston? Well they got a franchise face, and some depth all around -- at perhaps the expense of building into the future.
If you are looking to start an association with either team with the new rosters, here's how their stock was effected:
OKC: You aren't going to get the extra draft picks in the game -- so with that said they took a step backwards. You did get a promising athletic rookie in Jeremy Lamb and you also get a verteran sharpshooter in Kevin Martin -- but neither completely replace Harden on the roster. OKC went from being the best team and most fun team to play with in the West to being more balanced with the rest of the conference. The biggest benefit is that Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka all have room to grow still. A scary possibility both on the real and digital court.
Houston: Harden helps the Rockets on the front line. You don't have to worry about his mentality of being ready to be 'the man' or anything and Harden opposite of Jeremy Lin will be a good combo. Cook and Aldrich are depth builders but they aren't much more than that. Perhaps they're cogs off of the bench, but don't expect to start either. Hayward is likely a non-factor for the Rockets. Long term, you still need to build up your front court and your depth, but the Rockets path to some success has definitely been paved if you want to give them a shot.