Sports Opinion & Analysis

The Phoenix Suns Should Run, Not Walk, Toward a Trade For James Harden

In NBA on October 26, 2012 at 6:35 am

By Jonathan Danielson

The Oklahoma City Thunder have less than a week to give a contract extension to their bearded shooting guard, James Harden. If not, the Thunder will face the very real possibility of losing Harden to another team, once he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

Granted, Harden will be a restricted free agent, so the Thunder will have the opportunity to match any offer he might receive, but if the Thunder can’t (or won’t) pony up the cash now, do you really think they will match the maximum offers their (arguably) third (or second or fourth, depending) best player will inevitably sign?

If a contract can’t be made before the October 31st deadline, the Thunder will have no choice but to trade their wildly popular and reigning Sixth Man of the Year before the February trade deadline. If they don’t, they will otherwise potentially lose him with nothing for compensation once the offseason comes around.

Knowing full well about keeping a player on their roster longer than they should (especially if they knew they weren’t going to pay to keep him anyway), the Phoenix Suns should hand the Thunder’s owner, Clay Bennett, a blank check for the recent Olympian.

“It fits so much better than my last one!”

Here’s the deal with Phoenix. In case you didn’t hear, they once had this guy on their team named Steve Nash. Nash won two MVP’s while playing in purple and orange, but failed to lead his team to the franchise’s first ever promised land. Granted, a lot of this (all of this) can be blamed on the mismanagement of Suns’ owner, Robert Sarver, but for Suns’ fans, they still have this bitter taste lingering in their mouthes of the championship they never got to chew on. And that’s even with them not making the playoffs the last two years.

(To be fair, they are the fourth most winningest NBA team in history, and are statistically the best professional sports team never to win a championship, so they’ve been chewing on that taste for a while)

To Suns fans, they were supposed to win a championship with Steve Nash. They weren’t supposed to be on the butt end of disgraced ref Tim Donaghy throwing a game. They weren’t supposed to see their once beloved long-haired, adopted son, leave them for the hated Lakers.

But they did.

And because of that, there is now a disgusted and heartbroken fan base soul-searching for an identity. A fan base that needs a new hero to help them forget about the last guy and the promises unfulfilled. They have a few bright spots in returning point guard Goran Dragic, and if Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson can begin to prove why they were drafted second and fourth overall in the NBA draft, respectively, they have a nice young nucleus to build around.

But “What-If’s” and “Has-Been’s” and “Never-Were’s” can only go so far. What the Suns need to restore faith in their fans is a wildly popular and eccentric shooting guard who once played college ball a few miles away from the U.S. Airways Center.

Adding Harden would solidify a young roster filled with a high ceiling of potential.

The Suns must add James Harden. Yes, he might have the tendency to disappear in the NBA Finals, or for that matter, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, but to Suns fans, that doesn’t matter. In their mind, they’ve already decided that next year it’s either acquiring Harden or bust.

Sarver already screwed up keeping Nash for so long if he wasn’t going to sign him until his retirement, that he can’t screw this up either. There is now a price to pay, if he wishes to keep his team’s fans coming to the games and not giving up on the team completely.

And it’s now time to pay that price, and to let Clay Bennett tell him how much it’s going to cost.

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