Real simple. Money talked and James Harden walked … away from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets.
Yep, if you haven’t heard, unable to work out an extension with Harden, the Thunder traded the Sixth Man of the Year to the Rockets on Saturday night, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions.
The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston.
Wednesday’s deadline to extend Harden or allow him to become a restricted free agent next July had been hanging over the Thunder from the moment they reported to training camp, but sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein late Saturday the Rockets intend to sign the swingman to the max contract extension he was seeking before Wednesday’s midnight deadline.
The Thunder offered Harden $55.5 million over four years — $4.5 million less than the max deal Harden coveted and will get from the Rockets, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard.
“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,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement.
“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.”