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OKC Thunder: James Harden trade a rarity in that both teams benefited immediately

JAMES HARDEN TRADE — It doesn't happen often, a trade the is mutually beneficial for both teams. But that's exactly what happened for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets in the trade that sent James Harden to the Rockets and Kevin Martin to the Thunder.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Published: April 20, 2013

Theoretically, a good trade occurs when all sides prosper. Everybody wins.

Sounds great in theory, but there have been few truly good trades throughout NBA history and only a miniscule number have instantly been beneficial in all directions.

Most trades take time to evolve, but both sides prospered immediately in the James Harden deal.

The Houston Rockets acquired Harden on Oct. 27 and promptly signed him to a five-year, $80-million maximum deal that kicks in next season. (The other three OKC players dealt to Houston – Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward – were all gone within four months.)

In exchange, the Thunder got a proven scorer in veteran Kevin Martin, who conveniently replaced Harden as the team's sixth man. Included in the deal was promising rookie Jeremy Lamb, two future first-round draft choices and a second-round pick.

The result: The Rockets went from a .515 winning percentage (34-32) and no postseason to a .549 winning percentage (45-37) and a No. 8 playoff seed. The Thunder went from a .712 winning percentage (47-19) and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference to a .732 winning percentage (60-22) and the conference's No. 1 seed.

With Harden on board as the league's Sixth Man of the Year, OKC won last year's conference title then lost to the Miami Heat 4-1 in the NBA Finals.

It remains to be seen how well the Thunder fares this postseason, but the franchise continues to prosper despite losing a budding superstar in Harden.

Martin was so good, OKC potentially had one Sixth Man winner replace another, which is unprecedented. New York's J.R. Smith will likely win this year's award, but Martin will receive some votes.

Harden's future with the Rockets appears to be bright, as does the Thunder's prospects with Lamb and three additional draft picks that came via the trade.

The Harden deal turned out to be the rarest of all trades – an immediate win-win for both sides.

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