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Thunder trade James Harden to Rockets in a move that makes sense for no one
- Updated: October 28, 2012
By: Kels Dayton
The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to the Houston Rockets in exchange for rookie forward Jeremy Lamb and guard Kevin Martin.
The Thunder also sent Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward to Houston.
Oklahoma City had been trying to work out a contract extension with Harden, who will become a free agent at the end of the year. The 6-5 shooting guard averaged 16.8 points, 3.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds last season. He is seeking a max deal. The Thunder offered Harden a $55.5 million deal over four years, but Houston will likely give him the maximum over five years.
REACTION: Oklahoma City. This trade makes sense for Oklahoma City in the long-term, but it may not make sense for right now. Trying to replace Harden, who has gotten better every season and was good enough to make the U.S. Olympic team this summer, won’t be easy. Kevin Martin averaged 17.1 points per game for the Rockets last season, but he’s more of a shooter and doesn’t create for teammates the way Harden did.
Although The Beard was horrible in the NBA Finals and was manhandled by the Miami backcourt, he complimented Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant’s games very well. It remains to be seen whether or not Martin’s game will do the same. Harden was a slasher and spot-up shooter; and often created for teammates when things broke down. Martin won’t do that.
Adding Jeremy Lamb, who has played well in the preseason, should help the Thunder in the future, and it’s a great way for OKC to get something for Harden, who was almost certainly bolting after this season. The Thunder weren’t going to give him a max contract.
TRADE GRADE: B.
REACTION: Houston. The Rockets just got better this season, but signing Harden to a max contract could prove disastrous, especially now that the team has already tied up so much money in point guard Jeremy Lin. If Lin doesn’t work out, this team could be in big trouble in the near future. Harden can’t carry a team by himself, and even if Lin can recreate February 2012, the duo aren’t taking the Rockets past the first round of the playoffs. Houston probably would have been better off keeping Lamb and building around the young guns, who will be much cheaper.
TRADE GRADE: D+.