[credit provider=”Fox Sports screenshot”]
Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis turned down a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that would have sent Bradley Beal and Chris Singleton to OKC and James Harden to DC, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post.Lee reports that the five-year, $80 million deal that Washington would have had to give Harden would have sent the team to the brink of the luxury tax, and that’s why Leonsis turned it down.
If it’s true (big if), the Wiz turned down a deal what would have totally changed the fortunes of the Thunder, Rockets, and Wizards, as well as big star players like John Wall and Jeremy Lin.
Let’s run through them. Here’s what happens if that trade goes through:
Jeremy Lin is able to do Jeremy Lin things. As we’ve written before, Lin is struggling this year because he needs to be a primary ball-handler to be effective. His skills are redundant with Harden’s, and Lin has been unable to impact the game as a two guard.
If Harden goes to Washington, Jeremy Lin becomes the player who scored 38 points with Harden out injured two nights ago.
The Thunder get better in the long-term, probably. OKC has probably been the best team in the NBA through the first quarter of the season. Kevin Martin has filled part of the void left by Harden, and the continued growth of Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant on both ends of the court have filled the rest.
But Martin will probably leave after this season, and the other big piece that the Thunder got in the Harden trade with Houston — Jeremy Lamb — is in the D-League right now. So ultimately OKC got rid of Harden’s contract for a couple of late-lottery draft picks, and one season of Martin.
If that Wizards trade went through, OKC would have gotten a rotation-level bench defender in Singleton, and a promising long-term project in Beal. Washington doesn’t really know what to do with Beal right now, and his shooting has been significantly worse than advertised. But he was still a top-3 pick, and a guy who could have at least given OKC bench scoring beyond 2012-13.
John Wall’s future becomes a big question mark. The Wizards’ plan all alongside was to build around Wall. But Harden is leaps and bounds better than Wall right now, and if they were playing together Wall would have to really change his game to fit alongside a ball-dominant scorer.
Does he leave Washington when he’s a free agent if Harden steals his status as the cornerstone of the franchise? Does he turn himself into a Jamal Crawford-style scoring guard, with Harden as the point?