Harden in Houston

27 10 2012

And just like that, the seemingly unbreakable core of the Oklahoma City Thunder has been shattered.

As noted in this tweet, Marc Stein has reported that James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward be traded to the Houston Rockets. The Thunder will receive Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future draft picks, according to YahooSports.

Harden and the Thunder have been laboring over a contract agreement this offseason since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are already under max contracts while Serge Ibaka has a budget-stretching contract to add to that. The bearded man’s contract will end after this season.

With the new CBA soon in place that will penalize teams when it comes to sign-and-trades, it was inevitable that this move would occur. The purpose of this new agreeement is to force teams to make choices regarding their elite players. The Thunder made the tough decision. It was just that no one wanted to admit that the hottest, most exciting story in the NBA would soon go to a new chapter.

Martin is a scorer. That’s it. Bringing in Martin makes this Thunder team worse as Durant and Westbrook are already in charge of the majority of the scoring load. Harden’s role was to come in off the bench, act as a distributor and change the flow of the game. Martin can’t do any of these things. If you think the Los Angeles Lakers – who should now be considered the favorites to come out of the West – are about to go through some struggles as they develop their chemistry, flip the channel over to this OKC team as they try to fit Martin into their system.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they have now brought themselves right back to the mediocrity they have been stuck in for three straight years as they have finished ninth in the West three straight years. This year could have been the first step toward reconstruction for this franchise, but now Harden will give them just enough talent to be competitive, but not elite. Ninth place, here the Rockets come once again.

This is a lose-lose situation for these two teams. The Thunder needed to get rid of Harden’s looming max contract that they couldn’t provide him after this season and the Rockets were tired of their one-dimensional scorer. Now the Thunder and Rockets get to deal with a new problem.

Good luck.

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