MIAMI, FL - JUNE 17:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder fights for position against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Rumor: Thunder traded James Harden because he partied too much during 2012 NBA Finals

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The James Harden trade is one of the most analyzed trades of all-time.

The 2012 deal, which sent Harden from the Thunder to the Rockets, backfired for Oklahoma City. Harden has developed into a star, and the Thunder didn’t get nearly enough return in hindsight.

But their thinking at the time of the trade has often been defended for two major reasons:

1. Oklahoma City — with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka already signed long-term – was wary of paying the luxury tax year after year. The salary cap has risen higher than anticipated, making this concern less important, but the Thunder probably couldn’t have known the cap would climb so quickly.

2. With Durant and Westbrook, Oklahoma City thought another perimeter scorer like Harden would be superfluous. The Thunder could turn Harden into a collection of more helpful assets, and the trade netted starting center Steven Adams.

Was there also another reason Oklahoma City — coming off a loss to the Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals — dealt Harden?

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

It was a lot more about James and James’ mindset. You’re kind of seeing it play out now in Houston, is what the Oklahoma City Thunder were afraid of, and that is, if you rewind back to the NBA Finals run, James was kind of a ghost in the NBA Finals. In Miami, there were rumors that he was out late on South Beach.

Harden might have partied too much in Miami, though this also strikes me as the type of rumor people believe simply because it fits the facts.

After averaging 19.3 points per game on 49.1% shooting, including 39.1% on 3-pointers, in the regular season, Harden’s output plunged in the Finals — 12.4 points per game on 37.5% shooting, including 31.8% on 3-pointers.

Whatever caused Harden’s downturn, the Rockets have surely been glad to have him. They’ve certainly gotten more than enough production from him to justify the trade.

But Houston is also learning the pitfalls of relying on Harden.

Did the Thunder have reason to see those coming?

Report: Sergio Rodriguez looking at NBA return, likely with Brooklyn

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: Sergio Rodriguez (R) of Real Madrid drives against Terry Roizer (L) of Boston Celtics during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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For four seasons, Sergio Rodriguez — AKA Spanish Chocolate — was a solid backup NBA point guard out of Spain, playing most of that for the Trail Blazers behind peak Brandon Roy.

But he decided he enjoyed playing in Europe more, and headed back overseas to play for Real Madrid, where he led them to a EuroLeague title and a Spanish League title.

Now he’s coming back to the NBA, and it looks like he’ll land in Brooklyn, according to the well-connected David Pick.

The Nets started Jarrett Jack at the point most of last season, but because of his knee issues they may not pick up the team option to keep him. After that, the talent level drops off fast with Shane Larkin and Donald Sloan. The Nets just drafted Caris LeVert out of Michigan, but he has plenty of questions to answer at the next level.

Rodriguez would be an upgrade — he’s a pass-first point who is strong running the pick-and-roll and is a reasonably efficient scorer. He doesn’t take a lot of threes (or jump shots in general) but as he’s gotten older he hits them at a better and better clip. He operates well in space. He’s not much of a defender. He’s a smart player with some flare to his game.

It will be fun to see him back in the league.

If you want proof Chandler Parsons will be “all ears” during free agency, he gave it

DENVER, CO - MARCH 06:  Chandler Parsons #25 of the Dallas Mavericks controls the ball against JaKarr Sampson #9 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 6, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 116-114 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Dallas is going after Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside in free agency. If they strike out with those two, then they say they are willing to talk to Chandler Parsons about coming back. But not at a max salary.

That’s not going to work; Parsons is likely going to get the max ($22 million for him). Yes, he is coming off his lowest-scoring season since his rookie year (13.7 per game), plus he only played in 61 games and sat out the end of the last two seasons due to troubling knee issues. But his versatile game (and the flood of money in the system this summer) has Orlando and other teams targeting Parsons.

Someone close to Parsons told ESPN “he’ll be all ears” listening to other offers.

Parsons confirmed that on Instagram Saturday.

A photo posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on

The Chandler Parsons sweepstakes starts July 1.

(Hat tip Marc Stein ESPN)

Report: Lakers, Wizards will not get meeting with Kevin Durant. Knicks still hoping.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant reacts to a play during the second half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, April 21, 2016, in Dallas. The Thunder won 131-102. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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The Thunder remain the front runners.

The Warriors are next in line. The Spurs, Clippers, Celtics, and Heat will get their chances.

Everyone wants a shot to pitch Kevin Durant, the only franchise-changing free agent on the market this year. Two teams who wanted a chance will miss out: The Lakers and Durant’s hometown Wizards, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

Despite years of speculation about Durant possibly signing with his hometown Washington Wizards or the Los Angeles Lakers, a person with knowledge of his situation told USA TODAY Sports that those two teams are not expected to land a meeting with the former MVP. As it stands, it’s the six aforementioned teams coming Durant’s way at a location that has not yet been determined.

The New York Knicks have earned their way onto Durant’s radar, having traded for Derrick Rose recently to create quite the combination with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Yet as of now, it remains to be seen how that particular scenario will be handled. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the situation.

Good on Durant for being up front with teams and saying who is in and out, not wasting time meeting with teams he would never sign with.

That said, it should worry the Thunder that he has opened the door this much.

Just not to the Wizards and Lakers.

Ever since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, there has been an expectation from some fans in other cities that players want to come home. That is not always the case — most players don’t like the added off-court demands and pressures that come with being a star in their hometown. That always stood in the Warrior’s way, more than just questions about the roster.

The Lakers are a year away from really getting into these conversations. The addition of Brandon Ingram to D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance — with Luke Walton coaching — has potential to grow into the kind of team stars will want to join and take over the top. But that’s going to be in 2017 and 2018, not this summer. This Lakers team still needs to jell, and that will take a little time.

Report: DeMar DeRozan only going to negotiate with Toronto, wants to return

TORONTO, ON - MAY 27:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors reacts in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre on May 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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DeMar DeRozan has made it clear from the start — he loves Toronto. He wants to stay with the Raptors, here is what he said after they were eliminated from the playoffs:

“My mindset has always been Toronto… When we was terrible, I said I’m going to stick through this whole thing and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don’t want to switch up after we win.”

Good to his word, he’s not even going to meet with anyone but Toronto come the start of free agency next Friday, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Source: DeMar DeRozan will focus on getting a deal done to return to the Raptors as free agency opens. No plans to meet with other teams barring the unforeseen development of talks breaking down the Toronto.

While there had been rumors and talking heads pushing his return to his native Los Angeles, DeRozan always has put Toronto first. And the Lakers weren’t going to overspend on him anyway.

DeRozan knows how to get to the rim and averaged 23.5 points a game last season in Toronto, which got him both on the All-Star team and now on the Olympic team for Rio. It also got Toronto to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. He, along with fellow Team USA member Kyle Lowry, drive the Raptors offense. Yes, he needs to become more comfortable taking (and hitting) the three ball, but he’s still a guy who puts up points. Toronto needs him.

DeRozan is going to get a max or near max deal from the Raptors and they will figure this out quickly, GM Masai Uriji wants to keep him and will not mess around with the negotiations.