Among those stunned was Harden.
“It happened pretty fast,” Harden said. “I was at dinner and (Oklahoma City general manager) Sam Presti called me and said I was traded to the Rockets and I was kind of in shock.”
It extended to Kevin Durant, who took to Twitter with a simple, “Wow.”
During Monday’s news conference, Harden recalled a conversation he had with his former teammate Sunday night.
“I talked to Kevin last night. He called me, he is still in shock,” Harden said. “He stopped watching the game he was at because he was just so upset.”
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey never thought it would happen, either, even though he was pressing for Harden. According to Morey, Presti started making calls to every team in the NBA once the contract situation became difficult.
“They knew that things maybe weren’t going to work out with James,” Morey said. “So they talked to I think every team in the league in September to gauge interest and things came together over the past week.”
Harden was eligible for a four-year contract extension. The Thunder offered him $55.5 million over four years – $4.5 million less than the maximum deal Harden will get from the Rockets.
That $4.5 million difference – which Houston has made every indication it plans on offering before Wednesday night’s deadline – was enough to put last season’s Sixth Man Award winner in a different uniform.
“I didn’t think they would trade him,” Morey admitted. “He is already playing at an All-Star level and is going to be a perennial All-Star … Those players are rarely traded and frankly I thought it was going to work out there.”
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