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Proposed Harden For Thompson Deal “Impossible”

Although we recently picked up on Bill Simmons' Grantland article mentioning that the Warriors and Thunder engaged in exploratory talks involving Klay Thompson and James Harden last summer, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News firmly refutes the interpretation that Golden State 'turned down' an offer with Oklahoma City. While he says that Simmons' information in the article is correct and acknowledges that GM Sam Presti's interest in Thompson was accurate, Kawakami explains why a deal would have been "practically impossible."  

First, Kawakami looks at Harden's eventual max-contract extension, which would have likely required the Warriors to simultaneously unload Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins' contracts. That alone, he says, was already a non-starter for the Thunder, who would not have been willing to take back either of those deals. Secondly, Kawakami points out that the earliest draft choice that Golden State could have offered would have been a 2015 first-rounder, due to the fact that this year's pick is owed to the Jazz and that teams are unable to trade a first-round pick in consecutive seasons (therefore eliminating the inclusion of a 2014 pick). With that in mind, he argues that Oklahoma City wouldn't have favored or been able to gauge the value of a draft choice that would be determined two years from now. 

He then refers to what the Thunder actually received in the deal: Kevin Martin on a short-term contract, two potential first round picks this summer (one likely to fall in the lottery), and Jeremy Lamb (a lottery pick from 2012).

While it's reasonable to presume that Presti would have been willing get into more serious discussions with the Warriors if they were able to somehow acquire one or two 2013-14 draft picks, Kawakami says that doing so would have required a major roster shake up, possibly costing Harrison Barnes and/or trading David Lee for much lesser value, and thus leaving a roster with heavy financial commitments to Stephen Curry, Harden, and Andrew Bogut

In the event that Golden State wouldn't have had to give up Lee and also kept Jefferson and Biedrins, Kawakami shows how the team could have had an annual salary figure of $78MM spanning just 8 players, with the task of filling out the roster potentially costing an additional $6MM. In summation, he concludes that there was no draft choice for the Warriors include, no clear way of making the numbers work, and "no official give and take in the supposed offer."  

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