As Red Nation was getting used to the new-look product whizzing by the scores table for that past couple of weeks, the fans just got a huge shot in the arm tonight. General Manager, Daryl Morey, finally put the stock-pile of assets to good use when he swapped an expiring Kevin Martin contract, Jeremy Lamb, a first-round pick acquired from Toronto and Dallas for James Harden, Cole Aldrich and, three-point specialist, Daequan Cook.
It was all but set in stone that the Rockets 2012-13 season was going to need a hospital bed after only a couple of months but Dr. Morey decided to pull out the ole’ defibrillator. Does this trade put the Rockets in playoff contention? Maybe not but Space City is starting to look like an attraction for other “stars” to want to try out. A well-spent draft selection in about a year from now would really put a damper on this “rebuilding” era fans were finally starting to warm up to.
I wouldn’t go so far as to put Harden in the “superstar” status category but the guy can fill it up with the best of them. What you will get is between an 18-25 ppg scoring average and someone you could comfortably isolate with the ball at “crunch-time.” Harden has shown the ability to dominate in stretches and feels he is ready to take on the responsibility of a max-player. Every competitive athlete relishes the opportunity to test the strength of his/her back. Not only were the Houston Rockets willing to pay him whatever his heart desired, but they really needed him as well. Oklahoma City is the ideal situation for a player who is content on doing his part in a limited time frame. James Harden is just too good to come off the bench.
Harden started only two of 81 games last season averaging 31.4 min/gm. In that short time on the court, he scored 16.7 ppg at 47.7% shooting. One can understand the frustration. If you know that you can get more money from another team and not have to stunt your development while doing so, you go for it. The Thunder was given the green-light to shop the bearded baller the second he turned down their offer of 52 mil over four years. The agreement with the Rockets will be at 60 million dollars for the same time span.
Much work is still required to shape this franchise into the contender it once was but Morey’s latest venture is a huge step in that direction. The Rockets went from losing Kevin Martin for nothing to replacing him with a star-caliber player and locking him up for the foreseeable future.