Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 10/31/12

“Wow” With that simple tweet, Kevin Durant told us everything we needed to know about the trade that shocked the basketball landscape last night. Things will be much different now in Oklahoma City, where the “three best (basketball) friends that anyone could ever have” are no longer together. The trade between the Thunder and Rockets is this, via ESPN.com: The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. Reactions came quickly and were all over the map. Israel Gutierrez mused that because of Martin’s scoring and Lamb’s potential, the move wouldn’t hurt OKC’s title chances this year at all – AND that they got better for the future. Marc Stein saw things differently.  ”The Thunder broke up a trio of All-Star-caliber kiddies that truly loved playing together.” Maybe Tom Haberstroh offered the most rational assessment of all: Definitely a bad move for the short term, and potentially a good move for the long term. There’s just no two ways about it: The Thunder just lost an Olympian and got very little in return for this season. Kevin Martin is a brittle, one-dimensional player who might be the worst defender at his position. This is about a small-market team seeking future flexibility. As soon as the shock has worn down, NBA pundits will get out their laptops and try to analyze this thing from a numbers standpoint. What they will find is that OKC is getting a fantastic scorer in Martin – a guy who has averaged 18 points a game for his career.  He’s also been one of the league’s premier three-point shooters over that time as well – hitting 38% of his shots from long distance. No, he can’t guard anyone, but that will be okay. OKC will play him in the scoring role off the bench, and they still have Thabo Sefolosha and even the young Jeremy Lamb to guard perimeter players. OKC is also getting several draft picks, which will help them stock their roster rather cheaply in the coming years. The core of the team is still VERY young – with Ibaka, Westbrook, and Durant all less than 24 years old.  The addition of Jeremy Lamb to a team that already included Perry Jones, Eric Maynor, and Hasheem Thabeet (just kidding about the last guy) could give them an incredibly young AND talented six-man core.  No other team in the league can boast that. On paper, this team looks frightening for the foreseeable future. Yet, basketball isn’t played on paper. And the guys that know this…their responses are clear. As I was scrolling down the list of NBA tweets, two things jumped out at me:  1) Who on earth is Malik Allen?  2) Wow…everybody hates this trade for Oklahoma City. You see, in our world of fantasy sports and video games, we as fans tend to view things far too black and white. Hardcore basketball fans have, for years, taken control of their favorite team while playing NBA Live and piled up assets like Daryl Morey. Pacers fans have traded away Danny Granger for a young power forward for the last three seasons, just so they could get the exciting young Paul George more run at his natural position. Lakers fans have been trading for Steve Nash since the beginning of time. And somewhere, an Oklahoma City fan has probably tinkered with his roster – surrounding Durant with pure shooters or big men by trading away Westbrook, Harden, or both. It works. On paper. But in real life, basketball isn’t played on paper. Chemistry matters.  And it’s this very thing that makes basketball so great.   Hoosiers can happen in this sport. And it does – repeatedly. When a team really likes each other, and enjoys playing with and for each other, the team can accomplish great things. On the flip side, we can point to team after team that choked and lost to a weaker opponent – all because of a lack of chemistry. We could look at the oft-maligned 2004 USA basketball team. While many of America’s best chose to sit the Olympics out, that team still had Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson at their absolute peaks. Have you ever looked at the teams they lost to? Puerto Rico – boasting Carlos Arroyo as its best player – beat that team handily. Chemistry issues made the 2011 Miami Heat fall apart to a team that it was far superior to physically. The 2011 Mavericks loved each other, and you could tell.  From Dirk’s fadeaway to Jason Terry’s fearlessness, from Tyson Chandler’s toughness to Deshaun Stevenson’s lunacy – that team just worked. For several seasons now, basketball “experts” (including myself) have wanted to break the Thunder up. It doesn’t make any logical sense to keep Westbrook and Durant on the same team. Why would you ever surround the greatest scorer, possibly of all time when it’s all said and done, with a shoot-first point guard that has a below average jump shot? Why didn’t the Thunder draft Ricky Rubio, a guy that would have made it his nightly goal to get Durant and Westbrook 30 ppg, instead of James Harden? Our love of Durant’s personality and Westbrook’s incredible athleticism actually skewed our perception of the Thunder as a whole – and most of us came to a conclusion that was simply not true: The Thunder were great because of their incredible talent. Because their best players were all so young, we ignored the idea that chemistry could have had anything to do with their success.   But by all accounts, Durant, Harden, and Westbrook loved each other.  They loved to just play the game. When Harden made Team USA this summer over some other guys that probably fit a little better, nobody was surprised. Why? Because the other guys just got him. No matter how much writers like me tried to insert drama into their situation, the young Thunder trio wouldn’t have any part of it. Every time Westbrook took atrocious shots at the end of a game, Durant had his back. When Harden played the worst five games of his life last year in the NBA Finals, his friends had his back. When Durant lit up the Olympics with his scoring this summer, Westbrook and Harden were the loudest cheers on the bench. Sometimes in sports, you are privileged enough to play on a team that really does care about more than winning. The Thunder had that going for them. And now they don’t. As I was watching Notre Dame put the finishing touches on their victory last night, I waited patiently for my friend Ben – the biggest OKC fan I know – to contact me in some way. Would it be a long, ranting email? Maybe instead, a short, somber text message? I waited and waited, but nothing ever came to me until this morning – a simple “sad face” on my facebook wall. That’s what Kevin Durant was really saying to us on twitter last night – “Our team was about more than just winning. Now it won’t be.” The reality is this: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are still going to be great.  They have too much talent and too much drive to just “bow out” to the Lakers, Spurs, and Heat. They will be a playoff team, and might be able to ride a hot hand to the conference finals or further. But they will most definitely be different this year. That spark will be a little dimmer. That crowd will be a little quieter.  Their joy will be a little less infectious. Rip up that paper…these Thunder will never be the same. The post James Harden Trade Puts Chemistry Ultimate Test appeared first on Midwest Sports Fans.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Reports: David Price, Red Sox agree to seven-year, $217 million contract

LSU officials’ media leaks about Les Miles blew up in their faces

Sam Bradford returns to practice, but does it matter for broken Eagles?

Cam Newton won’t be ‘lured in’ by talk of undefeated season

Report: Miami job is Mark Richt’s 'if he wants it'

WATCH: Cowboys’ security guard being investigated for choking Panthers fan


Mariners ‘trying hard’ to trade Mark Trumbo before Wednesday’s tender deadline

Bill Belichick: Patriots always looking to improve win or lose

NFL: Refs did not blow calls on Ravens' blocked FG return

Roethlisberger: I’ll play through any injury but a brain injury

LeBron James feels ‘kind of sad’ about Kobe Bryant retiring

Singer Marc Anthony creates agency, signs Aroldis Chapman

Tiger Woods’ career inches closer to an end after gloomy injury update

WATCH: LSU releases video to honor Leonard Fournette

Report: Jim Hackett’s tenure as Michigan’s interim AD is ending

Josh Norman pretends to be a movie character each game

Ex-Giants OL Chris Snee 'wanted to see the Jets lose all the time'

Kyle Long gives Bears tickets to trash collector who found wallet

Last of a dying breed: Kobe's retirement marks end of an era

Are the Houston Rockets looking to trade Ty Lawson?

Anonymous agent: Lakers have 'no plan and no leadership'

LeBron on never facing Kobe in Finals: 'I didn't hold up my end'

Jerry Jones expects Tony Romo to start another five years

Devon Still announces that daughter is cancer-free

Ranking college football conference title games

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Tiger Woods’ career inches closer to an end after gloomy injury update

QUIZ: Name every NCAA football national champion since 1950

Browns lose to Ravens as only the Browns know how

NCAA figures out how to invite 5-7 teams to bowls

Ranking top Heisman Trophy candidates

Have the New Orleans Saints given up?

This weekend in NFL stupid, ft. Rex Ryan

Missouri won’t accept a bowl bid at 5-7

Durant blasts media on behalf of Kobe

Josh McCown laments how he got job back from Manziel

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker