The Oklahoma City Thunder traded the reigning Sixth Man of the Year to the Rockets on Saturday in exchange for guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick, as reported by ESPN.
On Sunday, Harden was asked if he planned on signing an extension in Houston (via NBA.com), and he responded, “Yes. Yes I do. I’ll let them figure that out with my agent. My focus right now is Houston and how I can make them better. ... I feel like I can help build it and bring my talents over here.”
ESPN’s report notes that the Thunder attempted to extend Harden’s contract, but the 23-year-old was unwilling to accept the team’s offer of $55.5 million over four years, which is less than a maximum contract. The post also states that Houston plans to offer Harden a max deal.
Harden is entering his fourth NBA season and is coming off his most productive year. He averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 39.0 percent from three-point range. All of those marks were career highs.
After Harden emerged as one of the most potent scoring guards in the NBA, speculation started that the small-market Thunder would have to break up their young core of stars, as they would be unable to afford Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.
That is exactly how the situation has played out, and now Harden will try to prove with Houston that he is capable of being equally as dangerous in a starting role as he was coming off the bench.