The Thunder receive: SG-Kevin Martin, SG-Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks, and a second-round pick
The Rockets receive: SG-James Harden, G/F-Daquean Cook, SF-Lazar Hayward, and C-Cole Aldrich
Why this makes sense for Oklahoma City:
I thought at first this was a rare knee-jerk reaction from Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti after he determined that the Thunder was not going to offer Harden the max contract he was coveting. It has been reported that the bearded lefty turned down a 4-year, $55.5 million offer, which is $4.5 million less than the most a team is allowed to offer someone whose rookie contract is winding down.
With Oklahoma City having Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka all signed to long-term deals that will total nearly $47 million for the 2013-14 season, I figured Harden wouldn't get the deal he was seeking from the Thunder and probably be sent packing after this season in some sort of sign-and-trade deal. However, Presti decided not to wait around and instead pulled the trigger days before the season tips-off.
Oklahoma City acquires in return Kevin Martin, who will replace Harden as the big-time bench scorer, assuming head coach Scott Brooks keeps Thabo Sefalosha in the starting lineup and brings Martin off the bench. Lamb, meanwhile, was the 12th-overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and is a talented, though streaky, scorer who will likely be a future replacement for Martin once his contract ends after this season.
Presti also brings in three assets in draft picks. One coming from Toronto, which Houston received in the Kyle Lowry deal, and the other is a future Dallas first-rounder. Both have certain protections to them but arm Presti with future ammunition either as trade bait or young talent to add depth to the team.
Does Oklahoma City become a better team because of this trade this season? Absolutely not. It certainly does keep the Thunder a contender in the West, though I think the Lakers are the team to beat. It also keeps Oklahoma City's future bright and rids the team of having to make any sort of rash decision next summer or some panicked deal like we saw from Orlando this summer with Dwight Howard. Presti showed some monster balls by swinging this deal, and while it may not be the popular move, it was a wise decision to keep the Thunder franchise looking bright for the future.
Why this makes sense for Houston:
General manager Daryl Morey was stacking up assets in hopes of landing a star player and feels his team has now acquired one in Harden. The Rockets are happily going to give him the extra $4.5 million that Thunder wouldn't and sign him to a long-term extension, which makes him their immediate franchise player. Only time will tell if Harden can truly carry a team, but many feel he the makings of being that type of player.
With that being said, I don't think this makes Houston a playoff team this year. How about this nugget: once Harden inks that extension, he, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik will be making almost $45 million combined for the 2014-15 season. That is a TON of money to be paying a "Big 3" that isn't close to being a true "Big 3" by NBA standards. Still, this was a no-brainer trade from Houston's perspective.