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James Harden Trade Actually Helps the Oklahoma City Thunder

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 17:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder stands on court with his head down in the second half against the Miami Heat in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Sam QuinnContributor IIIJanuary 11, 2017

After getting over my initial reaction (which involved me doing everything short of ripping up my Oklahoma City +450 to win the championship bet slips) to the James Harden trade (news via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports), I've come to the realization that the trade actually helps the Thunder. 

Kevin Martin isn't James Harden, and saying that he is does Harden a complete disservice, but he actually fits into what Oklahoma City does really well. While his lack of defense will be tough to stomach, his three-point shooting will add a new dimension to the Thunder offense.

Remember, his career three-point percentage is higher than Harden's and he's never played with anyone like Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook.

Harden is a solid shooter, but that isn't his game. He needs the ball in his hands to create opportunities. While he's quite good at that, he isn't as good as Durant and Westbrook. This trade creates more possessions for both of them.

Martin isn't what makes the trade for Oklahoma City, though. What really helps the Thunder here are Jeremy Lamb and the draft picks Houston is sending.

Had the Thunder re-signed Harden, they would have had virtually no cap flexibility going forward. They would have been locked into a four-man team of Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Serge Ibaka without much of a chance to add depth.

All of a sudden, they have Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb, two of the league's most promising rookies, locked into team-friendly four-year contracts. They also have two first-round picks from the mediocre Rockets, which they should be able to use to bring in more rotation players. 

Miami exposed guys like Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha in the finals last year. If this trade pans out, that won't happen again.

The basic idea behind this trade makes perfect sense to me. Oklahoma City believes that Kevin Martin can do 90 percent of what Harden does at half of the long-term price, and the extra depth it'll get with Lamb and those draft picks will give it an entirely new dimension.

Losing Harden hurts, but the Thunder did a fantastic job given the circumstances. 

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