Harden now a Rocket, after not being able to reach an agreement with Thunder
[caption id="attachment_11496" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Photo Credit: Getty Images
Oklahoma Thunder have sent James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook to Houston in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two 2013 first-round picks and one 2013 second-round pick.
OKC Thunder and Harden were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension. The Thunder were only willing to offer Harden 4 years for $54 million. Harden was quick to reject this offer, so the Thunder moved him to the trading table. This is where the Rockets pounced.
The Rockets have been searching for that one player to build a franchise around for a while now, remember when they tried everything to get Dwight Howard.
Have they found their franchise player in Harden?
Harden can definitely play consistently as a sixth man, but the question still remains if he can take the jump to be a star as a starter. In OKC, Harden was surrounded by stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In Houston he will have Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Houston is one of the most intriguing teams in the league. But with a back court of Lin and Harden things start to look good for Houston.
Many people believe Linsanity won’t live on in Houston, but if he can stay healthy and average at least 12 points and 5 assists he will be worth his contract.
What does this mean for the Thunder in 2013?
Firstly it means that they lose their best impact player and the 6th
Man of the Year. It also tears apart ‘The Big Three’ of Durant, Westbrook and Harden. The three of them were great friends and had terrific chemistry on and off the court.
Kevin Martin may not look like a player that can form a new ‘Big Three’ but he can certainly shoot and is one of the most underrated players in the league. Now he is surrounded by stars I expect his play to only improve.
Also don’t forget rookie Jeremy Lamb who Houston drafted with pick #12 in the 2012 draft. The one thing the Thunder will miss dramatically is Harden’s defence. Martin is not known for his defence and this will need to improve if the Thunder are to compete for a title this season. Thunder GM Sam Presti, did very well to snare two first round draft picks included in this trade.
With Durant and Westbrook still only 24 and 23 respectively they still have many years ahead of them, then throw in two future first-round draft picks the future looks even more exciting for the Thunder.
Who wins this trade?
At first glance it looks like the Rockets have won this trade, but if you dig deeper it shows a very even trade. The Thunder free themselves of what could’ve been a distraction all season during their pursuit to go one better than last year. But they do lose their firepower off the bench.
Houston now have a back court with so much promise. If the Rockets can gel quickly enough they could very easily have a big say in Western Conference Playoffs.
One thing is for sure, Thunder fans will greatly miss ‘The Beard’ and as for Rocket fans, they will have a lot of fun with the combination of ‘Linsanity’ and ‘The Bearded One’.