James Harden Traded to Houston In NBA Shocker

James Harden, one of the Oklahoma City trio of stars that led the Thunder to the NBA Finals in June, was traded to the Houston Rockets when he refused a $55-million contract extension offer.The news that OKC had broken up its dynamic young core of Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was met with shock around the league. But it came down to money. Harden, an all-star who was a  member of the London Olympic gold-medal-winning team, wanted a maximum contract of $60 million. The Thunder, according to reports, offered four years and $55 million.“We wanted to sign James to an extension, but at the end of the day, these situations have to work for all those involved,” Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “Our ownership group again showed their commitment to the organization with several significant offers.”Finally, OKC made a move, acquiring veteran scoring guard Kevin Martin and rookie Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft picks and a second-round selection, too. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich, Dequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets, who will sign Harden to the max deal he sought.Wednesday’s deadline to extend Harden or allow him to become a restricted free agent next July had been hanging over the Thunder from the moment they reported to training camp, but sources told ESPN.com late Saturday the Rockets intended to sign the swingman to the max contract extension he was seeking before Wednesday’s midnight deadline.“We were unable to reach a mutual agreement, and therefore executed a trade that capitalized on the opportunity to bring in a player of Kevin’s caliber, a young talent like Jeremy and draft picks, which will be important to our organizational goal of a sustainable team.”The small-market Thunder had already signed Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka  to long-term deals, and apparently realized Harden was going to want a bigger salary than they would offer.Harden averaged 16.8 points and 3.7 assists last season, and joined Durant and Westbrook on the U.S. men’s Olympic team. He struggled badly in Oklahoma City’s loss to Miami in the NBA Finals, but the Thunder felt good about their chances of getting back there with another year of experience for their young stars, all 24 or younger.The Thunder got back a good scorer in Martin, who has averaged 18.4 points in his eight NBA seasons, and a promising young player in Lamb, the No. 12 pick in the draft who helped Connecticut win the 2011 NCAA championship. He led Houston’s summer league team in scoring with 20 points per game.Had the Thunder been able to ink Harden to that $13.5 million annual contract, a franchise playing in the league’s third smallest market would have owed $69 million to just five players next season. That figure would have increased to $72 million in 2014-15 for those same five players.The tax threshold for this season is $70.3 million. Starting next season, teams must pay an incremental rate starting at $1.50 for every dollar they exceed the threshold.“At the end of the day, you have to do the best thing for the organization,” Presti said at his preseason press conference. “That’s what my job is. The day that I stop doing what’s in the best interest of the organization is the day that you should get somebody else.” read more

Budget Request Will Boost Defense Cut Domestic Programs

first_img ADC AUTHOR When President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 budget request hits Capitol Hill Monday, it will include a boost in defense spending and across-the-board cuts of about 5 percent to domestic spending, according to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.“It’ll be a tough budget,” he said on Fox News Sunday.The President is expected to request $750 billion in national security spending, almost all of that to DOD.That is more than is allowed under mandatory budget caps. To reach that number, the administration will ask for an increase in the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account, which is exempt from caps.That approach is already getting pushback on the Hill.“No one seriously thinks that Congress would pass a defense bill with $174 billion of OCO,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said, according to Politico. “So, OK, you just kind of set that aside, and you get down to the serious discussions of what we can do to keep our readiness from sliding backwards, what we do to keep pressure on the terrorists, to deal with the Russia-China threat. That’s what the conversation will be.”Lawmakers are working on a deal that would raise or eliminate the spending caps, similar to deals they’ve reached in the past.Photo by Fox Newslast_img read more