In a story first broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder have dealt last years sixth man of the year James Harden to the Houston Rockets in exchange for rookie Jeremy Lamb, the expiring contract of Kevin Martin and a “significant” amount of future draft picks. (We have now learned that those 2 picks will be first-rounders from Dallas and Toronto, as well as a second-round pick from Charlotte).
The Thunder will also send Cole Aldrich, Lazr Hayward and Daequan Cook to the Rockets as part of the deal.
General Manager Sam Presti had been in negotiations with Harden for a contract extension with the team. What we can take away from all of this is that talks between the two must have gone sour as an agreement couldn’t be reached. Because of that, Presti moved quickly to deal James as soon as he possibly could.
Sources are also saying that the Houston Rockets fully intend to sign Harden to the extension he didn’t receive with the Thunder.
There is not yet any conformation from either team as if this deal has been completed. Stay tuned to Sir Charles in Charge for more as this story progresses. If indeed this trade is legitimate, let’s break it down for both teams….
GRADE FOR OKLAHOMA CITY: B
James Harden was clearly looking for a max deal, which he wasn’t going to get. According to Yahoo Sports, Harden had turned down a 4 year, $52 million dollar deal with the team, as he was hoping for a 4 year, $60 million dollar extension.
Serge Ibaka had recently signed a 4 year, $48 million dollar deal to stay in Oklahoma City. The proposed deal for Harden would have barely put him above his teammate, which was a notion he clearly wasn’t pleased with at all.
It’s hard to truly evaluate what the Thunder got in return, as Jeremy Lamb is an unproven commodity. He averaged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists during his last year with the UConn Huskies. He’s a good young piece who, in my opinion, was a bargain for the Rockets at pick #12.
Was he really worth James Harden though?
Kevin Martin is a pure scorer in every sense of the word. He’s a career 18.4 points per game scorer and an excellent shooter (37.4%) from behind the arc. He’s playing on an expiring contract, so if all else fails and he doesn’t produce this season, he can be let go.
The draft picks are a nice addition for a capped out team looking for solid, yet cheap talent.
I feel like a “B” letter grade may be going a tad easy on the Thunder. Losing James Harden is HUGE, even if his negotiations did break down. He’s an all-star level talent who was an integral part of OKC’s run through the playoffs and into the finals. The chemistry he had with Durant and Westbrook was undeniable.
However, was Harden a product of playing behind two actual all-NBA talents and being the third option on one of the best teams in basketball? Is he capable of being “the man”.
I fully reserve the right to lower (or even raise) this letter grade once this trade fully sinks in. I’m still rather shocked.
DEAL FOR HOUSTON ROCKETS: A
Jeremy Lin + James Harden = James Hardlin? Let the marketing ploys commence.
How can you not like this deal for the Houston Rockets?
It wasn’t that long ago where I predicted that this would be the worst team in the Western Conference in 2012/13. Now this doesn’t vault the Rockets up the Western Conference by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly raises the roster out of the brink of obscurity.
This is James Harden’s time to shine. He’s the #1 option now. There is no more Kevin Durant and no more Russell Westbrook to cushion his fall.
As Kevin/Russell did for Oklahoma City, it’s now Harden’s turn to revitalize a franchise that is in dire straights.
Giving up on a rookie with as high a ceiling as Lamb has, as well as a nice expiring contract and useable draft picks may seem a tad pricy, but it’s worth the gamble to bring the reigning sixth man of the year on board.
Harden had an impressive PER of 21.13 last season as he put up 16.8 points in 31.4 minutes per game. He’s no slouch, that’s for sure.
Houston, it’s time to “Fear The Beard!”
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports