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Thunder trade James Harden to the Rockets

Oct 27, 2012, 11:59 PM EDT

Mavericks Thunder Basketball

Well, this was unexpected.

After contract talks broke down, with the Thunder failing to come through with a max contract extension offer for last season’s Sixth Man of the Year in James Harden, Oklahoma City’s GM Sam Presti decided to pull the plug altogether, and has traded Harden to the Houston Rockets.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the details:

The Rockets sent Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future draft considerations to the Thunder for Harden, sources told Y! Sports. Along with Harden, the Thunder will send Cole Aldridge, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook to the Rockets.

Houston also sent two 2013 first-round picks (from Dallas and Toronto) to Oklahoma City, sources told Y! Sports, as well as a 2013 second-round pick (via Charlotte). The Thunder will receive the Toronto pick this year if it’s slotted Nos. 4-14. That pick also is top-three protected in 2014, top-two protected in 2015 and top-one protected in 2016.

This trade is now official.

CSNHouston.com Daryl Morey spoke with CSNHouston.com about the trade.

“We think James is a guy we can build our team around,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said on Comcast SportsNet Saturday night…

“Yeah, we’re very excited,” Morey said. “He’s an All-Star caliber player we’ve been looking to add to the team. Obviously, on the recent Dream Team, youngest player on that team.

Let’s break down the gravity of this deal, shall we? Just four days before the season is set to tip off, the reigning Western Conference champions have traded away a crucial member of the team’s core contributors.

On the surface, this seems like an unnecessary turn of events. There were still a few days left to continue the negotiation process, and even after Harden turned down a $52 million extension, with the team creeping its offer up to a reported $53 or $54 million, the sides appeared to be coming together.

But as we discussed earlier, Harden wanted a max deal — period. If Presti knew that the team absolutely wouldn’t close the gap, then pulling the trigger on a deal this quickly might have made some sense.

Then again … I just don’t see it. Worst case scenario, you decide not to extend Harden by the Oct. 31 deadline, and you play out the season with him in place, making another run at the Finals with last year’s core firmly intact. Now, you lose Harden, and have to integrate a new piece in Kevin Martin into that role — a player who has been known for his efficiency in scoring and getting to the free throw line, but one who isn’t nearly the all-around playmaker that Harden has proven to be.

On the Rockets’ side, this deal validates Houston GM Daryl Morey, who blew up a team that was competitive last year in hopes of clearing enough salary cap space and draft picks to acquire one of the league’s stars. He’s done that now by dealing for Harden, who will now immediately move from the third best player on the Thunder to the number one option in Houston.

  1. trusports27 - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    K mart looks like he gonna be putting up his pts off the bench……., Lamb has a even higher ceiling under Durant’s wing. If Toronto not a top 3 OKC could possibly land Oklahoma States G-F LeBryan Nash or Kentucky F Alex Poythresis,with Dallas pick they could land Lehigh PG C.j McCollum or Michigan PG Trey Burke, And with there pick take Duke F Mason Plumlee not to mention that they also get the Bobcats 2nd round pick(1st pick of the 2nd round) add the 12.4 mil when Martin years done. Not bad at all yea they don’t got the with man of the year but they still start the same 5 and next year got trade bait and money if needed….Houston also got there shooter and basically gave him K Martin money thru the next five years. They both win but OKC might have the upper hand here in the future

  2. midwaymonster161 - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    I think it is very smart for OKC. They get rid of a money hungry potential distraction. While they might not be that good this season (read title contending) who cares cause Miami most likely has this season wrapped up with the moves they made. Plus you still gotta beat LA. But next season all bets are off, Kobe is breaking down, Nash is getting old and D. wade is breaking down. I think OKC has set themselves up for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Look at those draft picks and still have cash for a good solid complimentary player. Brooklyn won’t be the only place guys want to go to.

  3. jkidd25 - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    Thank You!

    -Laker Fan

    • jdpm24 - Oct 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM

      Right, this is why Lakers win championships while other teams compete. This keeps OKC competitve for years, but weakens greatly their chances of winning it all. OKC with Harden is a young team growing significantly stronger every year. Harden and the team would be so much better this year with Harden, and could run over anybody. Kobe and Nash covering Harden and Westbrook? Lakers would have kept Harden through the year to most likely win the championship; them see what’s out there if they can’t resign him. Harden, in a contract year, would be ultimately motivated as well. Just like Dallas letting Chandler go along with a run at another championship, OKC is letting their championship go with Harden. . . “but they’ll be competitve longer” . . . Whatever

  4. BigBeachBall - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    Everybody knows this trade was 100 percent influenced by the 2012 lakers roster…. Y incur the extra luxery tax on a team that wont be getting out of the west for a few years at least.

  5. fm31970 - Oct 28, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    Good move, Presti. Smart enough to realize three max players just can’t happen in the NBA, and getting good value in return, while eliminating the distractions. Pretty much fits their M.O. for the last few seasons, doesn’t it?

    • passerby23 - Oct 28, 2012 at 3:20 AM

      I completely agree. Presti has proven he can build a team and you just kinda knew that paying Harden would’ve been difficult. I don’t think there will be that much of a drop off, to be honest. Lamb is going to be a solid player and Martin will be the offense of the second unit.

      The real value is in those draft picks. If you sign Harden to a max deal, ok, you’ve got a great player, but now no cap flexibility at all to sign future players. And if OKC doesn’t win this year WITH Harden? Then what? Drafting quality and adding it to your compliment of players is what will keep OKC at the top. Presti has managed to acquire solid talent while making the team stronger for the future.

    • muhangis - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:14 AM

      Heard of Lebron, Wade, & Bosh…. idiot? Or better yet, Kobe, D Howard, Gasol, & Nash? Tired of reading these braindead comments from you ultra-morons.

      And no they didn’t get enough value for Harden in return. Kevin Martin is a declining player who didn’t do much for a bad Houston team last year. Lamb could very well become a bust. And the future pick OKC got will likely be too late in the 1st. Yet, OKC also traded away a strong, valuable center in Cole Aldrich.

      They very well may have traded a title away this year.

      • purnellmeagrejr - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:28 AM

        your name callling says more about you than it does the poster you were maligning, muhangis.

      • bougin89 - Oct 29, 2012 at 8:48 AM

        Ever hear of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Perkins and now Kevin Martin? Seflosha and Maynor are going to be free agents…Thunder are looking at the big picture. Also, if you want to talk “these braindead comments from you ultra-morons” we can start with you putting James Harden in the same class as Lebron, Wade & Bosh.

    • muhangis - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:18 AM

      Also I didn’t mention the Duncan, Ginobli, & Parker trio Spurs have had for years, with great role players around! How do you possibly say that “three max players just can’t happen in the NBA”???

      How about…. w/o three max players a team can’t possibly win an NBA Championship! Especially nowadays.

      • raidmagic - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:47 AM

        Keep in mind though, those guys aren’t on max deals. They took less to be together.

  6. savvybynature - Oct 28, 2012 at 2:07 AM

    So looks like another #1 seed for the San Antonio Spurs.

    Hopefully LA can get healthy enough to get the #3 seed and then knock the Thunder out, so the Spurs can once again send Nash and Kobe home early on their way to a Finals!

    • eureca323 - Oct 28, 2012 at 2:51 AM

      I think you mean Kobe once again end Duncan’s season as he has done 4 out of the 6 times they have faced each other :)

    • passerby23 - Oct 28, 2012 at 3:23 AM

      I’m not completely writing off the Spurs, but I expect some injuries to their Big 3, if not Pop resting them games throughout the season to keep them fresh for the playoffs. I don’t see them getting the #1 seed for that reason, but they’ll be in the mix and a team you don’t want to face in the playoffs.

  7. rocirius - Oct 28, 2012 at 3:31 AM

    I like this trade for OKC! They just got deeper at the SG position and got draft picks as well. I still think Harden is a good second/third option on a contender, but I have doubts that he will be able to lead Houston to the playoffs. I predict Harden will be as good as Joe Johnson over his career.

    If Aldrich turns into a good player it should be a good trade for the Rockets, but I really don’t see the Rockets escaping mediocrity for the length of Harden’s contract. If 3 of Lin, Harden, Asik and White prove to be superstars, Houston will contend, but I’m betting on continued mediocrity.

  8. dmaq1 - Oct 28, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    it’s going to be a lot different for Harden now that he’ll be the number 1 option night in and night out… I’m guessing it ultimately degreases his value.

    the thunder traded harden at his peak value… he is not a star.. but he is a top 10 sg

    something the article failed to mention is that harden wouldn’t get the deal out of principle.. durant didn’t get it, westbrook didn’t.. harden shouldn’t have either.

    this was on harden, not okc.. only 4.5 mil over 4 years.

    which leaves me to believe this was not all about money and harden simply wanted to be the man.. and now he is.

  9. thundersandpackers - Oct 28, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    Although we are losing harden who is such a big time player, we get Kevin Martin who can put up numbers too. Maynor can run the second team with Martin, perry jones, and collision or even thabeet. Still a pretty good team. Plus two first round draft. I feel thunders got the better deal although it does not look that way

  10. yourfutureanalyst1 - Oct 28, 2012 at 4:37 AM

    James Harden may just become another Gilbert Arenas. He’s a dangerously good young talent just as GA was in Golden State. Although GA signed with the Wizards and Harden has been traded its about the same scenario where a dangerously talented player goes to another team and shines. I think Harder will definitely shine and become an all star. He’ll be in Houston with some good talent but also some mediocre talent. All in all he’s young and he can flourish with this new team.

    • phaden27 - Oct 28, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      I’ve always said he reminds me of Baron Davis though he lacked that explosion from way early on Barons career. Oh and the beard.

  11. zacmonte - Oct 28, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    Anybody who watched Jeremy Lamb in the Summer League knows that he is a promising, young and talented SG. at 6’5″ with a wingspan around 6’10 or 6’11″, he has prototypical size for a 2 guard coupled with a sweet shooting stroke and nice skills both on and off the ball. Martin can fill in for now and clear off the books next year, but I believe Lamb will be a great part of the thunder core in 2-3 years. Coupled with OKC’s draft history, the extra two first round picks can make a huge difference as their front office has shown that they can consistently make good with their picks (not just high picks, either. Ibaka was picked in the late 20′s and is one. Depending on how these picks pan out, they could be the difference between being the Pistons or being the Bulls, this could be the move that in a few years puts them over the top for nearly the next decade. The Rockets what appears to be a great player who has the potential and marketability to be a star, but now we get to see if he was actually a product of playing with Durant and Westbrook in OKC or if his play was being held back due to their presence. Only time will tell, as with every trade.

  12. abchome - Oct 28, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    How stupid! You don’t break up a serious title contender for many years to come, just to save $6m ($52m vs $58m) over 4 years, plus whatever tax.

    • bougin89 - Oct 29, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Well, you can look at this a few ways. 1) Maybe the Thunder don’t believe Harden is worth max money(especially if they have to pay the luxury tax on it) 2) They view the depth on their team as more valuable than only keeping Harden 3) If Harden is that set on making 6 more million over 4 years on a rebuilding team rather than staying with the up an coming Thunder than maybe this trade needed to happen

  13. dwirk - Oct 28, 2012 at 7:32 AM

    I think in reality, OKC didn’t think Harden was that hard to replace. I tend to agree with them. They offered him $52 mil he said “no” well if that’s the case you’re gone.

  14. vstyle23 - Oct 28, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    J harden overrated. Lamb will surprise

  15. jprcox - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    People dont realize how small a market OKC is – and how impossible paying out that amount of cash would have been. OKC only has a team due to 1 rich mans desire – the NBA would never even have a team there otherwise. Spending like they are would never pay for itself, so OKC will always be limited this way.

  16. 13arod - Oct 28, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    housten is a contender for nba champinship now

  17. asublimeday - Oct 28, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    C’mon Bulls! You’re kidding me.

  18. The Prophet - Oct 28, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    The Rockets are becoming the John Mayer of the NBA. Whenever a starlet gets dumped the Rockets slime their way in to pick up the pieces …

  19. kavika6 - Oct 29, 2012 at 4:51 AM

    Good riddance. I was sick of that hideous beard anyway.

  20. redbaronx - Oct 29, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    I’m sorry to all the people that think Presti made a smart move here, but this is a DUMB move. The question isn’t whether OKC got a good value. In those terms they made a great trade. The question is the timing. By all accounts Harden was not a distraction at all in the locker room. They could have kept him for another year and then traded him at the end of his contract. Normally trading a guy at the end of the contract means teams will low ball you, but not in the case of Harden because multiple teams would be bidding on his services.

    I tend to agree with some of the Laker fans comments. They should be thanking their lucky stars. I don’t think the Lakers could have beaten OKC with Harden even with the Nash and Howard additions. Nash can’t defend Westbrook or Harden and OKC rode the guard matchup problem to the Finals last year as the Lakers are too weak defensively at the 1 and the 2 spots. Nash may be a greater offensive threat, but defense would still be a problem. Now that becomes less of a problem.

    This is a short sighted move. Harden would have had even more value next year with another year under his belt. I think this is a simple case of management tired of negotiating with a perceived “problem” and pulling off a trade that has bad timing written all over it. This reminds me of Phoenix when they let Joe Johnson go when they were right at the cusp of a Championship. Anyone remember that???

    • bougin89 - Oct 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM

      The Thunder would not have gotten nearly as much if they had to sign and trade James Harden at the end of the season. Harden was being asked to give up about $1.5 million a year or so (depending on which report you believe), if he couldn’t sacrifice that to stay with a really young and upcoming team then I think the Thunder made a great move by trading him. Plus, is Harden really worth max money?

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