Despite the surprising nature of a trade happening so close to the start of the NBA season opener, both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets will benefit from the blockbuster trade of James Harden.
Although it may not have been something we expected, the writing was on the wall for a major shakeup in Harden's future. He obviously wanted a max contract, and that was something that the Thunder weren't willing to give up for a sixth man.
Harden's impact on OKC's success in 2011-12 was evident as he won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award. It's doubtful that they would've reached the NBA Finals without their bearded swingman.
But it was no secret that Harden would be a starter on most any other NBA team, and he wanted to be paid like the superstar that he's becoming. Earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic roster and logging a ton of playing time speaks for itself.
The Rockets found themselves a star to place alongside Jeremy Lin in their backcourt. By adding Harden, they have two cerebral players who can shoot the lights out while running the offense intelligently and putting the ball in the right place.
They also added a key component to their bench in Daequan Cook. He'll be one of the most prolific three-point shooters on this team and will certainly get some respectable playing time on this roster.
OKC got rid of much cap space in this deal while also replacing Harden with a similarly productive player. Kevin Martin may not become Sixth Man of the Year, but he'll likely be the best player on the Thunder's bench and will have a massive impact on this team.
With many of their core assets (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka) locked up with max contracts for many years, it was important that OKC add some youthful talent and potential. They did that in drafting Perry Jones III from Baylor, and they added an even more talented rookie in this deal in Jeremy Lamb.
Lamb was drafted No. 13 overall by the Rockets and was expected to evolve into a starter's role somewhat quickly. He won't have that pressure in Oklahoma City, and he'll be able to focus on developing his game and putting bench points on the board for the Thunder.
Additionally, it gives the Thunder some high-potential trade bait if they feel like making another big deal later on in the season or next offseason.
Although it must be hard for Oklahoma City fans to see the bearded wonder go, there are brighter days ahead in OKC because of the trade. And the same bodes for Houston fans.
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