The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to the Houston Rockets, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions.
The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night.
Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich, and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. Yahoo! Sports first reported the trade.
Harden will become a free agent next summer if Houston doesn't sign him to an extension by Oct. 31, but sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein late Saturday the Rockets intend to sign the swingman to the max contract extension he was seeking from the Thunder before Wednesday's midnight deadline.
The Thunder offered Harden $55.5 million over four years -- $4.5 million less than the max deal Harden coveted and will get from the Rockets, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard.
"We wanted to sign James to an extension, but at the end of the day, these situations have to work for all those involved. Our ownership group again showed their commitment to the organization with several significant offers," Thunder GM Sam Presti said. "We were unable to reach a mutual agreement, and therefore executed a trade that capitalized on the opportunity to bring in a player of Kevin's caliber, a young talent like Jeremy and draft picks, which will be important to our organizational goal of a sustainable team. We appreciate James, Cole, Daequan and Lazar's contributions to the Thunder organization and this community and wish them the best in the future."
The Thunder had already signed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to long-term deals, and apparently realized Harden was going to want a bigger salary than they would offer.