There are no silver medals in superstar sweepstakes.
The Suns went for the gold in trying to negotiate a deal to acquire James Harden from Oklahoma City, but Houston landed the gold medalist Saturday.
The Suns have assets of salary-cap space, draft picks (10 in the next three years) and players on good contracts but no offering struck Oklahoma City’s fancy, and the Thunder sought more than Phoenix was willing to give.
“We were engaged in discussions on numerous occasions,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “We most recently met in person when we played them (in Tulsa, Okla., on Oct. 19). At the end of the day, there wasn’t a deal that was workable for both sides.”
Babby said no proposal “got a whole lot of life.” He did not specify the pieces or the time frame of the talks but mentioned that the deliberations were not a one-sided pursuit
Houston now has the All-Star it had been seeking in a roster makeover that included using its amnesty waiver on Luis Scola, who Phoenix claimed with the top bid. The Rockets sent Oklahoma City a package of Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and two first-round picks. They will sign Harden to a maximum five-year deal worth nearly $80 million.
Martin and Lamb address immediate and long-term off-guard needs in Harden’s absence.
Houston has four players remaining from last season, when Scola and the Suns’ Goran Dragic played there. Only Patrick Patterson remains from 2010-11.
“They were looking for an All-Star,” Scola said. “I think they have one in James Harden.”
It gave a shake-up to the West, where Oklahoma City is a contender and teams like Houston and Phoenix battle to get into the top eight.
“It was a great trade for both teams,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “Houston gets a really, really good player that’s on his way to being a superstar. Oklahoma City gets a good young player (Lamb) and a really established player in Kevin Martin, and they also get some draft picks.”