James Harden is a Rocket. First reported by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last season gets the chance to be a star as a starter on a completely retooled Rocket team alongside Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.
Harden had rejected a four-year deal worth $53 million at the least, according to Yahoo, signaling a breaking point in the talks. The contract was about $4.5 million less than the maximum contract that could have been offered and Houston — which was openly lobbying Orlando to trade Dwight Howard this summer — has been looking for a major free agent and has the money to offer a max contract.
WHO GETS WHOM?
Houston: Gets James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook.
Oklahoma City: gets Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, future picks from Houston and picks (via Houston) from Dallas and Toronto for the 2013 first round, and a 2013 second-round pick from Charlotte.
Harden’s star power wasn’t dimmed by his role as Oklahoma City’s first man off the bench ever since he was picked No. 3 overall in 2009. He averaged 16.8 points per game last season on 49 percent shooting, a shooting percentage that shot up six percentage points from his sophomore season. His assists, rebounds and three-point shooting percentage all were career highs last season.
What does this do for Oklahoma City? Besides the future flexibility, it provides an opening for Eric Maynor (Maynor tweeted simply “Wow” upon hearing the news) and Perry Jones III to break into the starting lineup as new arrival Martin acclimates to OKC’s offense. Maynor was expected to be in a fight with Reggie Jackson as a backup point guard, but he can play the two more easily than Jackson can. Jones III had a solid Summer League and would give a bigger option at that position who could possibly play at small forward, as well.
A number of NBA players reacted on Twitter to the trade, including LeBron James, Harden’s Team USA teammate at this summer’s Olympics.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 28, 2012
From personally talking to a half-dozen players this summer, the impression to a man was that Harden would stay and win while still getting a near-max contract. The common refrain, from Ty Lawson to Kyrie Irving, has been that he had the temperament to have delayed gratification as a leading man because of the lure of winning. Whether that or money was the leading factor for the trade it’s unknown right now. It certainly changes the dynamic of the Western Conference title race on the eve of the season’s start.
What do you think?
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