10:56am: Suns president Lon Babby confirmed to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that Phoenix had been engaged with the Thunder in trade talks for Harden, though he says that no proposal ever gained serious traction.
"We were engaged in discussions on numerous occasions," Babby said. "We most recently met in person when we played them [on October 19th]. At the end of the day, there wasn’t a deal that was workable for both sides."
8:53am: According to Zach Lowe of Grantland.com, Thunder GM Sam Presti had at least "semi-serious" trade conversations involving James Harden with a number of teams before eventually accepting the Rockets' offer. Lowe says the Warriors, Jazz, Wizards, and Raptors were among the teams that Presti spoke to before sending Harden to Houston. We heard yesterday that the Suns also pursued a trade for Harden.
The Thunder were seeking a sure-thing player who was still in the first year or two of his rookie deal, according to Lowe. That means Presti figures to have inquired on players like Klay Thompson, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Bradley Beal, and Jonas Valanciunas. Lowe adds that the Thunder GM likely started the process by reaching out to the Hornets about Anthony Davis, though I imagine that conversation didn't last too long.
Here are a few more Harden-related links, as reactions continue to pour in on one of the year's most surprising trades:
- Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman reports that the Thunder made a last-ditch offer to Harden on Friday, proposing a four-year, $53MM extension. The team gave him a one-hour window to accept it, telling him that if he turned it down, he'd be traded to Houston. According to Tramel's sources, Harden said he needed three days to make a decision, but because the Rockets wanted time to negotiate an extension before Wednesday's deadline, Presti stuck to the one-hour window.
- The pieces the Thunder acquired for Harden are the same sort of assets the team used to initially build itself into a perennial contender, opines Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
- Members of the Spurs, a team the Thunder eliminated from the playoffs earlier this year, were surprised by the deal, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. "It's kind of weird to look at OKC and think of them without their Big Three," Danny Green said. "Things are different. Obviously they're still going to be a good team."