Rockets welcome new man Harden
Mon, 29 Oct 2012 3:16p.m.
The Houston Rockets originally scheduled an open practice at the Toyota Center as a means to earn money for the charity Target Hunger and Kids Meals but it became more than that. While they still gave back to the Houston community, they welcomed James Harden to it as well. A day after being dealt to the Rockets by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden did not participate in the scrimmage but he did take time to meet fans and speak to the media.
The transaction saw Houston acquire Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Haywood in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks and a second rounder.
The 23-year-old Olympic gold medallist and the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Harden completes an offseason overhaul for the Rockets, who've missed the playoffs the last three seasons. Houston cut or traded every veteran player, including shooting guard Kevin Martin (who was part of the Harden deal), point guard Kyle Lowry, backup Goran Dragic, shooting guard Courtney Lee and popular forward Luis Scola.
The new-look Rockets are a very young team. Harden just turned 23 two months ago. Pair him with two 24-year-olds in Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons and a 26-year-old Omer Asik and suddenly you have the makings of a rather interesting, and still improving core - to say nothing of the potential possessed by young players such as Patrick Patterson, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and Royce White.
Harden started only seven games in three seasons in OKC, but he became an indispensable reserve for the Thunder. Last year, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the regular season. Oklahoma City traded him to Houston once they determined they could not sign him to a contract extension. The Thunder offered Harden $55.5 million USD over four years -- $4.5 million less than the max deal Harden coveted and is expected to get from the Rockets this week.
Harden is a deadly spot-up shooter, knocking down 39 percent of his shots from beyond the arc a season ago, and he should help take the heat off of new point guard Jeremy Lin. Lin joined Houston after the New York Knicks opted not to match the Rockets' bold three-year, $25 million USD offer sheet earlier this summer. The undrafted point guard out of Harvard missed the last 17 regular-season Knicks games and the first-round playoff loss to Miami after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
Lin had struggled in preseason - making just 22.2 percent of his shots - before breaking out on Friday in a game against the Orlando Magic. He sank 5-of-10 shots including three three-pointers on his way to 13 points, five assists and two steals in 23 minutes of action.
Sunday's scrimmage was capped off by an autograph session and an entertaining dance competition with Houston's rookies. The Rockets' regular season tips off against the Pistons in Detroit on October 31st.
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