SAN ANTONIO — Yes, he noticed. Sam Presti traded away James Harden, not his newspaper subscription.
So when the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year made a mountain of 37 points and 12 assists in his debut with Houston on Wednesday night, there was no way that the Thunder general manager could convince himself that it was a molehill.
Never mind Tony Parker’s 21-foot rainbow that gave the Spurs a belated and far less significant measure of satisfaction Thursday night. That mountain will only grow larger if Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook and what’s left of the would-be dynasty doesn’t return to The Finals in June and a championship or two does not find its way to Oklahoma City.
There are those inside the NBA who understand why Presti — as smart and calculating as they come — did what he did. In today’s economic NBA climate with a small market like OKC and the league’s new luxury tax penalties hanging like the sword of Damocles, sometimes a team must take a step back now in order to keep moving forward in the future.
That didn’t mean it hurt any less when Parker lost Westbrook on the game’s last play and stuck the knife in the Thunder in their 86-84 loss opening-night loss. (more…)