By Matthew Wellman, Staff Writer
The Oklahoma City Thunder are all set to attempt a repeat Western Conference Champions title. They have a couple new pieces that they are excited to get on the floor and hope to complete the journey this year and win the Finals.
The biggest happening for the Thunder this offseason happened recently with the trade of James Harden along with Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook, to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future draft picks.
Most people think this was the wrong choice for the Thunder. Harden was a beloved member of the team and will definitely be missed. Losing the energy and scoring he brought off the bench could potentially hurt the Thunder in the long run. However, Martin has been known as a potent scorer and will most likely take over the starting shooting guard spot right away. Martin averaged 17 points per game last season, which was his lowest total since becoming a full time starter in 2006-2007. Jeremy Lamb is also a fantastic addition to the Thunder. He is a young player who the Thunder are no doubt looking to develop into a big time player in the near future.
Overall, the Thunder may take a minimal hit right off the bat from this trade, but they will most likely be better off in the long run.
The main reason that Harden was dealt was because he and the team could not reach an agreement on a contract extension. He wanted more money than the Thunder thought he was worth and subsequently ended up getting a much larger contract from Houston than Oklahoma City was offering him.
All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are no doubt ready to get this season underway. Surely they are looking at this year as sort of a redemption year after rolling through the Western Conference in the playoffs and then getting mauled by the Heat in the Finals just a season ago. Durant hopes to continue his dominance by taking his fourth straight league scoring title and Westbrook has become one of the most respected point guards in the league.
With Harden gone, Oklahoma City will turn to guys like Eric Maynor, Reggie Jackson and first round pick Perry Jones III to fill some more major roles off the bench.
For Thunder fans, this is one of the most exciting seasons yet and surely they are just as excited as the team to get it started.