MIAMI -- The defending champion Miami Heat were stunned by the rival Oklahoma City Thunder's decision to trade James Harden. But they don't believe it changes the dynamic in the race for the title when the season starts this week.
The move, in which the Thunder sent Harden to the Houston Rockets for a package of players and draft picks featuring Kevin Martin, was a major topic of conversation within the team when the Heat gathered for practice Sunday.
"It was shocking but they made the move they felt was right for them," Dwyane Wade said.
"It shakes up the West a little bit. I think both team got fair value. I'm not a GM or anything but both teams came out pretty good... I'm not one of those guys who fell back too far. They have good depth, Kevin Martin is a pretty good scorer in this league. We'll see how it shakes out but I still think they're the best team in the West right now," Wade added.
LeBron James said players had been talking recently and speculating on what might happen with Harden, who was facing complex contract talks with the Thunder. He said he had a feeling something might happen but was surprised by the trade.
"I think we all know that James Harden was a big part of their team," James said. "He was a big part of why they made it to the Finals. They got a couple pieces back that are really good as well. But we don't know how it changes their team until they actually get out there."
Wade said Harden may experience some changes in Houston, where he is expected to sign a maximum contract extension that could be worth nearly $80 million over five years and become the franchise player. The Thunder, who made Harden's the league's best bench player, were only offering four years and between $52 and $55 million.
"All eyes are focused on you night after night, it's different when you come off the bench and you have a big night and everyone talks about it and if you don't there's not much written about it," Wade said about Harden.
"It's what he wanted in a sense. That's what he wanted when he didn't take the extension. He wanted his worth and he wanted to be featured. He's going to get featured. He's a pretty good player. He can live up to the billing but the grind is tough. Every night to step up to what everyone believes that you should do because of the dollar about you ask for. He's still young, he's still coming into his own. He can do some things (in Houston), we'll see."