Thunder trading James Harden to Rockets

The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks and a second round pick from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard James Harden, center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

“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.”

According to Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, “The deal comes on the heels of negligible progress being made on a contract extension for Harden following nearly four months of negotiating. As a result, the Thunder parted ways with the fan favorite after stagnant talks made it clear Harden would be too much of a financial burden to keep. If no deal was reached on an extension by Wednesday’s midnight Eastern deadline, Harden would have become a restricted free agent next summer. Houston is believed to now be ready to ink Harden to the maximum-allowable contract that Harden has long been believed to covet. 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.”

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.

“We are very excited with tonight’s trade,” said Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander. “While I never like having to send out quality players like Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, this trade gives us a chance to make an immediate impact on the future of our franchise moving forward.  James Harden was part of Team USA’s gold medal team at the London Olympics and is one of the most skilled shooting guards in the NBA.  James, along with the mix of young players we already have in place such as Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik give us a very solid group of young, talented players who will form the core of our team.”

Harden (6-5, 225, Arizona State) has averaged 12.7 points, 2.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 220 regular season games (seven starts) with Oklahoma City. Additionally, he’s averaged 16.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 20 playoff games.  Selected by the Thunder with the third overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, Harden played in 76 games (no starts) as a rookie and averaged 9.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game on his way to earning NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors.  In 2010-11 he played in all 82 games (five starts) and improved his scoring average to 12.2 points while posting 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest.  Harden enjoyed a breakout season in 2011-12, establishing career high averages for points (16.8), rebounds (4.1), assists (3.7), shooting percentage (.491), 3PT% (.390) and FT% (.846) while playing in a career-most 31.4 minutes per game.  On April 18, 2012, Harden poured in a career-best 40 points in a 109-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns.  After leading all NBA reserves in scoring average in 2012, Harden became the youngest recipient of the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

Aldrich (6-11, 245, Kansas) has averaged 1.7 points and 1.9 rebounds in 44 regular season games (no starts) with the Thunder.  After forgoing his senior year at Kansas, Aldrich was selected with the 10th pick of the 2010 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets, who then traded his rights to the Thunder on draft night.  Aldrich still owns the Jayhawks school record for blocks in a season (125) as a junior and ranks second on the school’s career blocked shots list (253).  Aldrich, who finished his collegiate career in 2009-10 as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, also participated as a freshman in Kansas’ national title run in 2007-08.

Cook (6-5, 210, Ohio State) has averaged 7.1 points and 2.3 rebounds in 279 (48 starts) career games.  The former Ohio State Buckeye is entering his sixth NBA season after being selected 21st overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2007 NBA Draft.  After a post-draft night trade to the Miami Heat, Cook spent the first three seasons of his career with the Heat before being traded to the Thunder on 6/23/10.  In his first season with the Thunder during the 2010-11 season, Cook posted career-bests in FG% (.436) and 3PT% (.422).  In his final season with Oklahoma City, he averaged 5.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 57 games (22 starts).

Hayward (6-6, 225, Marquette) has averaged 2.9 points and 1.3 rebounds in 68 games (no starts) since being selected by the Washington Wizards with the 30th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. After having his draft rights traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Hayward played in 42 games (no starts) for the Timberwolves, averaging 3.8 points and 1.7 rebounds during the 2010-11 season.  Prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, Hayward was traded to Oklahoma City where he saw action in 26 games (no starts) and averaged 1.4 points per game.  He finished his Marquette career as the program’s second all-time leading scorer and the 5th all-time rebounder.

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