Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news and says the trade comes after the Thunder and Harden were unable to agree on a contract extension. The two sides were days away from Wednesday night’s deadline for 2009 draft picks to sign an extension. Talks reportedly broke down after Harden rejected a four-year extension offer for between $53-54 million.
Wojnarowski reports that the Rockets will give Harden a four or five-year deal for maximum money by the deadline.
Both Wojnarowski and The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry report that Cole Aldrich, Lazar Haywood, and Daequan Cook are headed to Houston along with Harden in the deal. The Rockets are sending Martin and Lamb as well as several picks in return.
The Thunder are receiving two protected first-round picks (from Toronto and Dallas) in 2013, as well as a second-round pick in 2013.
Harden is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2009. He has improved in every statistical category each of his three years in the league and will likely develop into an All-Star in Houston.
The Thunder have had difficult decisions to make about their future. They signed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to maximum contracts, and gave Serge Ibaka a four-year, $50 million extension in August. Those who felt the Ibaka deal would make it tough for the team to sign Harden long-term were correct.
Not only will Harden get at least a half-dozen million more by signing with Houston, but he also is going to Houston where there is no state income tax, which will mean even more money. His priorities will be questioned because he’s going from a team that reached the NBA Finals last season to a middling franchise, but maybe he believes he can help Houston become a top team. He also will finally be able to start after coming off the bench in Oklahoma City his entire career.
The Thunder made the difficult decision to trade Harden once he wouldn’t agree to take less than market value. They got back good value in return: a scorer in Martin (whose contract expires after the season), a rookie with potential in Lamb, and three picks. The Rockets were dissatisfied with being a mediocre team and coveted an All-Star. They got one in Harden. I think this trade will work out well for both sides.
Here’s the reaction to the trade from some NBA players, including Thunder players Kevin Durant and Eric Maynor: