The Houston Rockets shook up the NBA landscape Saturday night when they acquired James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden, a three-year veteran with All-Star potential and a key cog in the Thunder's trip to the NBA Finals, became a casualty of OKC's desire not to pay the luxury tax.
The Thunder sent Harden, Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward, and Daequan Cook to Space City in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two future first-round draft picks, and one future second-round draft choice.
Monday morning, plenty of teams that missed out on Harden made a PR push by claiming they made a trade offer for the Arizona State product. The Orlando Magic weren't one of them, and Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Magic were "not involved:"
There are multiple reasons why the Magic couldn't have made a play for Harden despite their ties--general manager Rob Hennigan hails from the OKC organization--to him. For one, Orlando simply doesn't have a player of Martin's caliber, nor does it have a future prospect on Lamb's level. The fact that Martin has an expiring contract only adds to the appeal from the Thunder's perspective.
Through three seasons, Harden has averaged 12.7 points in 26.7 minutes, shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 37 percent on three-pointers. In his most recent season, in which he won Sixth Man of the Year honors, he scored 16.8 points in 31.4 minutes on 66 percent True Shooting in 62 appearances, coming off the bench in all but two of them.
Harden was due to become a restricted free agent in 2013. Oklahoma City was unwilling to offer him a maximum salary and elected to trade him rather than let the uncertainty surrounding his Thunder future cloud its season. The Rockets, with their collection of high-value assets--including a "reverse-protected" first-round draft pick from the Toronto Raptors which is guaranteed to land in the draft lottery--were well-positioned to make a competitive offer. Orlando, which has just begun its rebuilding project, didn't have the assets to make such an offer.
For full coverage of the Harden trade and its aftermath, please visit this StoryStream on SB Nation's NBA page.