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Sports briefs: Oklahoma City Thunder trade Sixth Man award winner James Harden to Houston

Published October 27, 2012 6:23 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

NBA • Unable to work out an extension with James Harden, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded the Sixth Man of the Year to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions.

The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich, and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston.

The Oct. 31 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.

"We wanted to sign James to an extension, but at the end of the day, these situations have to work for all those involved. Our ownership group again showed their commitment to the organization with several significant offers," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement.

"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 Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to long-term deals, and apparently realized Harden was going to want a bigger salary than they would offer.

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.

But Harden was a huge part of Oklahoma City's success and had said he was even willing to sacrifice dollars in order to stay with the Thunder. But they've been unwilling to climb into the luxury tax, which will only become harsher under the new collective bargaining agreement.

Utah attorney general Shurtleff to drop lawsuit against BCS

College football • Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he's dropping his plans to sue the Bowl Championship Series because of the organization's recent decision to move to a playoff system.

Shurtleff announced last year that he was seeking antitrust law firms to join a potential federal lawsuit aimed at disbanding the BCS.

But Shurtleff told KTVX-TV on Friday that he believes the lawsuit threat helped prompt the decision to go to a four-team playoff format in 2014.

"We do think what we were doing led to their changes, and at the end of the day that's what we wanted them to do," he said. "We wanted them to make the changes."

A committee of university presidents approved the four-team playoff in June.

The BCS was established in 1998 to run the top tier of college football's postseason and to set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 national title game.

Critics contend it has unfairly given some schools preferential access to the title game and other premier bowls — along with the money that comes with it. Under the BCS, the champions of six conferences have automatic bids to play in top-tier bowl games; the other five conferences don't.

When Shurtleff took up the cause several years ago, Utah was a member of a conference without an automatic bid to a BCS bowl. The school has since joined the Pac-12, a BCS member.

Schools such as Utah and Boise State have lost out on millions of dollars over the years because the system has kept smaller conferences at a competitive and financial disadvantage, Shurtleff has said.

Shurtleff, a Republican who leaves office at the end of the year, said attorneys in his office plan to monitor the new playoff system.

"We're very suspicious that a selection committee picking four teams is still going to be an antitrust problem, but we don't know for sure," he told the Deseret News.

Serena, Sharapova to meet in WTA Championships final

Tennis • Serena Williams cruised into the final of the WTA Championships by beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-1 Saturday in Istanbul and will play Maria Sharapova for her third title at the event.

Sharapova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 in the second semifinal, a day after Azarenka had made sure of finishing the year as the top-ranked player.

From wire reports