I think I'm more concerned about how this effects chemistry than anything. Harden isn't a good defender, and not a max guy IMO. Westbrook and Ibaka took a little less to keep it together. I'm pretty shocked Harden wasn't willing to do so. It's better to trade him with 3 throw away players now for a couple of scorers, and give yourself time to play together than do it midseason. Then you have a couple of picks to package or keep.
It will be interesting to see how Harden handles the spotlight. I really like the guy and hope he succeeds.
I thought the Lakers were the favorites in the West anyway, so nothing changes there.