The Bulls endured some economic reality this summer when they broke up the Bench Mob.
Oklahoma City landed in the same spot with shooting guard James Harden. The Thunder couldn’t afford another maximum salary and traded Harden to Houston on Sunday.
There are other players involved and OKC is getting some draft picks, but the deal is essentially for Kevin Martin and rookie Jeremy Lamb.
It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that OKC would have to part with Harden. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are already getting max salaries, while big men Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are also locked up at hefty prices.
Should the Thunder have signed Harden instead of Ibaka or amnestied Perkins? That’s a tough call, but I do think Harden in not a maximum-salary player, which is what he’ll be in Houston. The Rockets are taking a gamble, because guys who share the floor with two superstars always have more room to operate.
You’ve got to admire OKC general manager Sam Presti for taking care of this situation quickly, but he also could have played with Harden this season and traded him next summer. I think that’s the better scenario for OKC.
I was a fan of Martin during his early days in Sacramento. In Houston, he’s putting up decent numbers, but gets most of his points by driving to the hoop and contorting his body to influence foul calls. Referees will get tired of that act.
The Bulls are in a similar boat with Taj Gibson, who has until Wednesday to sign an extension or else he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. There’s probably a good chance Gibson agrees to something in the $8-9 million neighborhood.
Even if he doesn’t sign, there’s still a chance he’ll stay with the Bulls long-term. Gibson has Bird rights, so no team could pull off a poison pill offer -- like the one Omer Asik got from Houston – unless it really wanted to break the bank.