Sixth Man of the Year James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night after the Oklahoma City Thunder were unable to work out an extension.
In the trade the Thunder acquired Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb alongside two first-round picks and one second-round pick. Along with those trades Oklahoma City also sent Cole Adrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston.
Had Oklahoma failed to trade Harden he would have become a restricted free agent next July, a fact that would likely have become a distraction. Oklahoma had to act quickly to secure a deal before unrestricted free access would have been placed on Harden this coming Wednesday.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein the Houston Rockets plan to sign Harden to his full contract request. The Oklahoma City Thunder had hoped to secure Harden for $55.5 million over four years, $4.5 million less than what Harden asked to receive.
In a statement following the trade Thunder general manager Sam Presti said:
“We wanted to sign James to an extension, but at the end of the day, these situations have to work for all those involved. Our ownership group again showed their commitment to the organization with several significant offers.
We were unable to reach a mutual agreement, and therefore executed a trade that capitalized on the opportunity to bring in a player of Kevin’s caliber, a young talent like Jeremy and draft picks, which will be important to our organizational goal of a sustainable team.”
Last season Harden averaged 16.8 points and 3.7 assists per game. Harden helped his team reach the NBA finals where they lost to the Miami Heat, a series for which Harden struggled.
Over his eight season NBA career James Harden has averaged 18.4 points per game.