James Harden and the Houston Rockets have agreed to a four-year, $228 million contract extension, according to NBA.com. The 2017 MVP runner-up was a reason the Rockets had a successful 2016-17 season.
According to the NBA report, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said the following about Harden’s contract extension.
“It’s my pleasure to announce we’ve reached agreement with James Harden on a long term contract extension. Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game,” said Alexander. “Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the City of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship. I’m very happy for James, his mother Monja, and their family on this exciting day.”
USA Today reports that Harden’s deal is structured in a way that allows for Harden to make $46.8 million in the last year of his deal (2022-23).
The Rockets traded for guard Chris Paul on June 28 and the team feels that the combo of Paul and Harden will help them in the Western Conference race for years to come.
“It’s a weapons race in the NBA and you’re either in the weapons race or on the sidelines,” Houston general manager Daryl Morey said. “We felt like with James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams that are out there. This puts us right there with them.”
“Now that we have James and Chris I think people are going to look in free agency and say: `Hey I can make this money there but maybe for close to the money but not quite as much I’m going to come to Houston and try to win a ring,”‘ he said. “So that’s a big difference walking in with that kind of a situation,” via NBA.com.
If the Rockets are able to land a couple more free agents, there is a strong chance that West will be facing a new juggernaut in the conference.
But the question that fans and team owners should be asking is this: How much more money is Houston willing to spend to create a tougher contender?
Whether or not the Rockets are viable competition to the defending champion Golden State Warriors remains to be seen, but Harden has nothing to complain about at this point.
And will Harden be able to put poor postseason performances behind him from the past now that he sees dollar signs?
Watch: James Harden 2016-17 highlights