In James Harden, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey got a player that Houston can build around and Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti picked up some assets for the future after the two sides came to terms on a six-player, three-draft pick trade over the weekend.
Unable to hammer out an extension with Harden, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Presti opted not to play the waiting game with the talented guard and shipped him to Houston. Going with Harden to the Rockets in the deal is former lottery pick and seldom used center Cole Aldrich, guard Daequan Cook and forward Lazar Hayward.
For Harden, a player viewed as an All-Star in the making, the Thunder received quite a return. Scoring guard Kevin Martin and wing Jeremy Lamb, the 12th overall pick in the 2012 draft, are headed to Oklahoma City. The Thunder also received three draft picks, two first-round picks and a second-round selection from the Rockets.
Houston had plenty of draft picks to use to acquire a star player after the team loaded up on first-round picks in an attempt to land Dwight Howard this offseason. One of the first-round selections headed to OKC is Toronto’s lottery-protected first-round pick that the Rockets originally obtained in the Kyle Lowry trade.
For the Rockets, who have coveted a franchise player to build around ever since the retirement of Yao Ming, making the trade for Harden was a no-brainer. He is expected to sign a maximum extension with the team and will pair nicely with Jeremy Lin in Houston’s new-look backcourt.
For Oklahoma City, the trade was a calculated business decision. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka chewing up the bulk of the team’s cap space, there simply wasn’t a big enough share of the pie to give Harden. The trade gives the Thunder an instant offensive weapon off the bench in Martin, a proven scorer, and Martin’s potential replacement in Lamb, the former Connecticut Huskies standout.
The three draft picks, especially the Raptor’s lottery-protected pick, give Oklahoma City a lot of flexibility moving forward, padding an already explosive, young nucleus with relatively inexpensive talent.
Got a take on the 2012 NBA Draft? Come join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.
© 2012 Neal J. Leitereg — All Rights Reserved