Harden-Martin trade worked for both teams
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
Give Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey credit for this much: he has no interest in gloating about the trade that transformed his franchise.
Acclaim has been easy to come by for Morey this season, as his October deal that brought James Harden to town from Oklahoma City put his team back in the playoffs after a three-year absence and established quite the foundation for their future. But when Morey returned this reporter’s request for an interview earlier this week, the agreement to chat came with one precondition: no more analyzing of the Harden trade.
What he’d love more than anything else, it’s safe to assume, is being able to brag about a first round upset of the very Thunder team with which he pulled off the trade. And that, more than anything else, is all you need to know about the state of the Rockets. It’s not just about Harden anymore, but about a team that has its franchise player and is hell-bent on having some fun while this rebuilding effort unfolds.
The top-seeded Thunder (60-22) will enter as the heavy favorites over the seventh-seeded Rockets (45-37), but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Houston isn’t just happy to be here. And while the trade that sent Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Thunder was the rare win-win for all involved, only one team can win now.
“Yeah, I had happy-to-be-here for like a day,” Morey admitted by phone before the final seeding was determined on Wednesday. “When you’ve been out (of the playoffs) for three years, it’s hard not to feel that way. So for one day I let myself be happy to be there, and then it was right back to figuring out how to win in the first round.”
And, should they get that far, to keep on winning.
“I think for sure, among the lower seeds, five to eight in either conference, it’s ourselves and whoever is left in the five seed (Memphis) that are easily the teams that no one wants to face,” he said. “We’ve beaten every good team … [For more on Harden for Martin trade worked for Houston and OKC, click here.]