The Rockets sent scoring guard Kevin Martin, rookie guard Jeremy Lamb and three draft picks to Oklahoma City in return for Harden, swingman Daequan Cook, center/forward Cole Aldrich and forward Lazar Heyward.
Why trade such a valuable player? Money. Harden rejected a four-year, $53 million contract offer recently, and with big-money deals for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka already on the books, that was all Thunder management was willing to pay.
The deal will help OKC's bottom line, but probably won't be as big a help on the court. Harden is an outstanding passer and served as a second point guard for the Thunder, allowing Russell Westbrook to create shots for himself more often. Martin is a good scorer, but he doesn't have Harden's playmaking ability. He's also regarded as a poor defender.
On the plus side for Thunder fans, I have total faith in OKC general manager Sam Presti's player evaluation, so I fully expect Lamb - the 12th overall pick in this year's draft - to develop into a star now. And he'll likely find more future stars with the draft picks he receives in this deal.
Harden should thrive in Houston, where he'll become the Rockets' primary scorer and playmaker. His arrival should also take a lot of pressure off Jeremy Lin.