James Harden Trade To Houston: Grading Each Team’s Haul
Photo Credit: Angel Blue, Flickr.com
James Harden is now a member of the Houston Rockets after being traded late Saturday night by the Oklahoma City Thunder. We’re going to take a look at how the trade shakes out from both of the team’s perspectives as well as HoopsHabit’s view of the deal.
Houston receives James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward.
Oklahoma City receives Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and one second-round pick.
For Houston, they knew that their team wasn’t going to be very good in 2012-13. They were planning on going after a big name during the Summer of 2013. When they had the opportunity to acquire Harden at this point, they had to jump.
They will almost certainly extend Harden to a max-level extension before the season starts. This will make both parties happy in that Harden can feel as if he’s being treated like a star, and Houston can feel comfortable that they have their star locked up long-term.
From a basketball standpoint, losing Kevin Martin isn’t a big deal. He wasn’t fitting into Kevin McHale‘s offensive plans anyways, and is in the final year of his career. They would have traded him or watched him walk away at some point.
Giving up Jeremy Lamb is definitely an unknown at this point, considering he hasn’t played one regular season NBA game. He was the Rockets’ leading scorer during the Summer League, with 20 points per game.
Picking up Aldrich, Cook and Hayward isn’t of much consequence. The Rockets are already full of bit players at the end of the bench.
Giving up draft picks isn’t a huge deal in the lottery system, in my eyes. You never know what actual pick you’re going to have until the ping-pong balls are drawn. You know exactly what you’re getting when you trade for a player.
Houston’s Grade: B+
Oklahoma City’s Perspective:
After offering Harden $55.5 million over four years and having it declined, the Thunder realized that they’d either have to offer up the full $60 million, trade him, or watch him walk in free agency.
Nobody expected them to trade him before the season. It’s fairly unbelievable, especially considering they went to the NBA Finals last year and didn’t have to trade him now.
In any event, acquiring Kevin Martin will help fill the offensive void that is left without Harden. Martin is in the last year of his contract and I don’t see him being a long-term part of the Thunder’s plans.
Martin is a volume shooter, but he’s not going to be in position to take a ton of shots when he’s on the court with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. If he’s on the court with the second unit, he’ll get plenty of looks.
Jeremy Lamb brings potential, but they’ve already got Westbrook and Eric Maynor at the point. The shooting guard spot is also full, with Martin and Thabo Sefolosha.
Acquiring assets in the form of first-round draft picks are always hit and miss. Teams do get enamored with the possibility of getting a top pick, so they can definitely be used in some way.
Losing bit players like Aldrich, Cook and Hayward won’t hurt.
Oklahoma City Grade: C-
I give Oklahoma City a poor grade on this for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t understand why they would be willing to give Harden $55.5 million but traded him because of an extra $4.5 million. Secondly, I don’t see why they traded him now.
The Thunder should have held onto Harden and continued to evaluate him through the year. What if he continues to improve the way he has over his first three years in the league? The Thunder could have had two players that legitimately could shoot 50/40/90. That’s insane.
Then, when the offseason came around, they could have made a choice. It’s not that they won’t win a championship because Harden is gone, but they didn’t improve upon their situation. I would have waited.
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I wear many hats. I will become a father for the first time in July 2013. My work career started as an umpire, evolved to a blackjack dealer and has settled as a sportswriter. You could say I'm used to getting yelled at. I love me some Minnesota Timberwolves but currently call Phoenix home. I'm an eight handicap and a terrible leaper.