Rockets Complete Trade for Thunder's James Harden

Daryl Morey made it well known that he wanted to make some big moves prior to the 2012-13 season. Apparently, he was telling the truth.

When you go 5-2 in the preseason you would think that there would not be any big changes that need to be made before the season starts. However, when you have a general manager that has vowed to make some big moves in order to make the Rockets a winner now, it is never too late to shake things up.

Shake things up he did. Saturday night the news broke that the Rockets had completed a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring the most fearsome beard in basketball to Houston.

Last season’s Sixth Man Award winner, James Harden, will be joining the Rockets. Harden and the Thunder were not able to come to an agreement on a contract extension so rather than let him become a restricted free agent next season the team went ahead and traded him now.

In exchange for Harden the Thunder will get Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and three draft picks (two first round picks and a second round pick in the ’13 draft). Oklahoma City is also sending Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook to the Rockets.

The trade will give the Rockets a talented shooting guard to be paired with Jeremy Lin at point guard, giving Houston at least a well-known tandem if not a talented one. Questions have surrounded the meteoric rise of Lin whose talent has been questioned after he cooled off from a hot start last season.

In Harden the Rockets get a young guard that they hope can be a big part of the club for years to come. Harden was the third overall pick in the ’09 Draft coming out of Arizona State. During his last season with the Sun Devils he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and was named a consensus All-American.

He quickly made a name for himself with the young, up and coming Thunder. In his first season he was named to the all-rookie second team. He was named the Sixth Man of the Year last season. During the summer he was an integral part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gold medal winning team.

The question that will dog Harden in the beginning will be whether he can handle playing more. Coming off the bench he averaged 31.4 minutes a game last season.  As the starter he will likely be expected to play closer to 40 (or more).

On the face it appears to be a win-win for everyone. Houston needed to get rid of Kevin Martin; the oft injured guard had made it clear during the off-season that he had no intention of resigning with Houston after the coming season. The Rockets will be able to afford paying Harden the max contract, something Oklahoma City wasn't willing to do since after paying Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka big contracts.

Oklahoma City’s loss is Houston’s gain. Should the Kevin McHale be able to get Harden to gel with the other young players on the roster the Rockets could very well make some noise this season. They start the season away from home against the Detroit Pistons on Halloween.
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