Former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates, Kevin Durant and James Harden, sat down with Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose of Grantland to discuss how things have been different since Harden was traded from the Thunder to the Houston Rockets on the eve of the 2012-13 season. The two players openly acknowledge they miss playing with each other, but they’re looking forward to competing for a chance to represent the Western Conference in the Finals this season.
Last summer Thunder GM Sam Presti was debating what to do with Harden as he came up on his first big payday after his rookie-scale contract. Ultimately, Presti elected to deal him for 50 cents on the dollar to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, the pick that turned into New Zealand big man Steven Adams and a future first and second round pick.
Since that trade, Harden exploded into arguably the best off-guard in the league, and after Russell Westbrook tore his meniscus during a freak collison with the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley in the first round of the playoffs, Memphis bounced the Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Thunder dynasty that seemed poised to dominate the Western Conference for the next half decade after their Finals appearance during the 2011-12 season, appears to be on life support as they attempt to reshape their roster post-Harden.
This Summer, Houston famously signed free agent Dwight Howard away from the Lakers and now Houston is a title contender with Harden, Howard and Chandler Parsons the apotheosis of GM Daryl Morey‘s stockpiling of picks.
The two former teammates are now on a collision course to meet again in the Western Conference playoffs, but this time it might be to decide who moves on to the Finals. That’s what makes this brief exchange between the former teammates so interesting; so much has changed and now they are the biggest obstacles standing in front of each other’s teams in order to play for a chance to win an NBA title.
But as you can see, there is still a lot of respect between them and they continue to be friends despite all that’s transpired. The NBA is a business, after all, but we’re happy they’re still tight.
What do you think?
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