The Sixth Man of the Year, Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden, has been traded to the Houston Rockets because OKC couldn’t afford his salary demands.
Here’s the official press release from the OKC Thunder:
“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,” Presti said. “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. We appreciate James, Cole, Daequan and Lazar’s contributions to the Thunder organization and this community and wish them the best in the future.”
Harden will be sent to Houston for Kevin Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick. The Thunder is also sending center Cole Aldrich and guards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets.
Martin (6-7, 185) will enter his ninth NBA regular season with career averages of 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists, including a .377 (744-of-1974) mark from three-point range and .865 (2,716-of-3,140) from the line. The Western Carolina product has averaged 20 or more points in five of the last eight seasons and has finished in the top 10 in the NBA in free-throw percentage in each of the last three seasons.
The 20-year old Lamb (6-5, 180) enters his rookie campaign after being selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. During his sophomore season, Lamb averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds on his way to being named to the All-BIG EAST First team after finishing the previous season as the second leading scorer on UCONN’s 2011 NCAA Men’s Championship team.
A report by Yahoo! Sports on Saturday said Harden recently turned down a four-year extension worth roughly $52 million. The report also was the latest to say Harden is pushing for a max deal, expected to be roughly $60 million over four years.
But with max contracts extended to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — as well as more than $52 million invested in Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins over the next three seasons alone — the Thunder faced the possibility of stiff penalties under the new, more punitive collective bargaining agreement.
Had the Thunder been able to ink Harden to a $13 million annual contract, a franchise playing in the league’s third smallest market would have owed $67 million to just five players next season. That figure would have increased to $70 million in 2014-15 for those same five players.
Harden will make his lone appearance inside Chesapeake Energy Arena as a member of the Rockets on Nov. 28.
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