I might just be tuning out an earlier trade, but from my recollection, the James Harden blockbuster is the biggest, most impactful trade I’ve ever seen so close to the start of a regular season, especially involving a legitimate title contender just days away from beginning defence of their Conference crown, but I digress.

Given that this is RaptorBlog and that us Torontonians are known for assuming we’re the centre of the universe, it’s always nice when there’s an easy way to make something about us.

In case you haven’t already realized, one of the draft picks Houston sent to Oklahoma City is actually Toronto’s draft pick, as in the uniquely protected pick the Raptors forfeited to acquire Kyle Lowry.

As a refresher, here’s how that “double protection” boils down, first for the Rockets Thunder:

- For five years (2013-2017), the pick is protected for the Thunder so that they can only receive a lottery pick, meaning if Toronto makes the playoffs in 2013, the pick gets deferred to 2014, and so on and so on for five years. Should the Raptors shock the world and qualify for the postseason in five straight seasons, the Thunder (or whoever owns the pick at that point) will get an unprotected Raptors pick in 2018.

For the Raptors, the forfeited pick breaks down like so:

- Top-3 protected in 2013

- Top-2 protected in 2014 and 2015 (Barring an epic setback, Andrew Wiggins will almost surely be a top-two pick in 2014, so Raptors fans need not worry too much about missing out on the hometown prospect because of the Lowry trade)

- No. 1 overall protected in 2016 and 2017

Also, to answer a frequently asked question, once the pick lands in the unprotected range (4-14 in 2013, 3-14 in 2014 and 2015, or 2-14 in 2016 or 2017), that becomes the year the Thunder must use it. They cannot choose to defer the pick if they don’t like the 11th slot next year, for example.

Moving on, I noticed a few tweets, columns and general opinions on Saturday night that pointed towards this trade being a sign that “Super Teams” of Big Threes and Big Fours will slowly die with the more severe luxury tax penalties of the new collective bargaining agreement, and that small markets should be celebrating that fact, with some Raptors fans joining in on the fun.

While that may very well be true, the fact is that the Thunder, despite their success, are the very definition of a small market team, and a team like the Lakers, the Heat or the Knicks will likely always be more willing and able to go at least a little deeper into the tax than a team based in Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Indiana or where ever. Furthermore, despite their lack of success and naive opinions to the contrary, Toronto is not a small market. In fact, the Raptors play in one of the NBA’s biggest markets, and are propped up by what I can only imagine is one of the NBA’s more lucrative ownership groups.

It’s one thing to say you think ownership is cheap when it comes to the sports side of their business, and that you would welcome severe tax penalties because it might force other big market owners to be just as cheap, but just don’t lump us in with the whole sad “small market” group.

If, though, the NBA is on the precipice of an era dominated by say, two star teams instead of three and four star teams, then it’s obviously a positive for any team that doesn’t currently boast a collection of stars, no matter the market.

The Raptors clearly happen to be one of those starless teams, and that means that to contend, in addition to eventually adding another star, they’ll need to hope one of their current youngsters is the first star to build with, and we all know exactly who I’m talking about. No pressure, Jonas.

(Non-Raptors related sidenote: This is the first real blow to the Thunder fan base in their brief OKC history (other than the initial losing), and I’m curious to know if this is the moment that makes them a little jaded and more like most other sports fans. They’ll still have a mighty good basketball team and franchise player to cheer for, but I really do wonder if this is the moment that makes those great Thunder fans become just like the rest of us…you know, complaining about their team a lot more, worrying about their team’s future a lot more, actually booing their own team from time to time. It’s bound to happen eventually.)

Comments (9)

  1. From what I heard, Harden turned down 4 years and at least 52 million from the Thunder only to get a 4 year 60 million extension from the Rockets. So, 8 million or even less than that to play for a team that won’t be winning anything any time soon. Probably not the smartest thing for Harden to do.

    • As far as I know, Harden has not signed an extension of any kind with the Rockets yet but they can offer him as much as 5-years $80 million which I think they will considering they have the lowest payroll in the league. Just as much as teams need to spend below a certain level to miss the super tax, they need to spend a certain percentage of the cap which Houston is well below.

      Thanks again for pointing out the specific conditions involved with that pick, Joseph,

      • Just checked the article about it on ESPN. The Thunder offered 4 years and 55.5 Million, while the Rockets did in fact give him 4 years and 60 Million, where 60 is apparently the max deal he could get.

        So, Harden actually turned down less than I thought at only 4.5 Million instead of 8. Which makes this whole situation even more confusing that both sides couldn’t agree on that little difference.

        • Again, not sure where you got that number or why you keep bringing it up.

          Harden has not signed or agreed to an extension yet and the Rockets can in fact offer him up to $78 million.

          • I know he hasn’t signed anything yet. I’m just going based off of what the article is saying.

            ESPN says Harden’s looking for 60M, but Rotoworld says Harden could get 78M from Houston with a one-time allowance, like you said.

  2. Just to add to the situation, I wonder if the Raptors were involved at all at trying to potentially land Harden.

    Would anyone be against a deal that was DeRozan and Davis and a couple second rounders for Harden?

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