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James Harden Signs 4 Year Extension With Rockets

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Houston Rockets all star guard James Harden signs a four year extension worth $118 million dollars.  The contract will keep Harden with the team until 2020.  Harden re-upped with a new 4-year deal worth $118M. It’s effectively a 3-year deal, as Harden has a player option before the 2019-20 season. Given that he was already under control through 2018, the Rockets bought themselves an extra year, at the cost of roughly $20M over the next 2 seasons.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander made the announcement of the new contract while introducing newly acquired free agents  Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Nene.  “There’s no indecision,” Harden said at the news conference. “There’s no doubt. There’s new life.”   The collective bargaining agreement allows Harden to renegotiate his contract after 2 years in 2018.

New head coach Mike  D’Antoni’ is excited that Harden made a long term commitment to the team.   “We’re building a new core with James here,” Houston general manager Daryl Morey said at the news conference. Before the extension Harden was set to make 34.6 million on his finally 2 years. Now is set to make 27.8 million a year for the next 2 years, and 63.1 million in his final 2 years.

HardenInArticleThe extra money to Harden could handicap the Rockets for the next few seasons in free agency, despite a rise in the salary cap. They will have a tougher time offering max-level cap space to stars in the open market. My sense is that it was more important, at this stage, for the organization to show an increased commitment from the team’s franchise player. If they can entice a star to sign, the Rockets probably believe they can shift enough contracts to make that happen.

Harden is a tremendous player. He is an offensive force that can produce a top 10 NBA offense basically by himself. He is a wonderful, underrated passer that creates a vast amount of opportunities for his teammates. That, in itself, is enough to win around 45-50 games and make the playoffs every season, even in the West.However, winning the NBA title will require way more. The organization, and Mike D’Antoni, will need to demand more from Harden on the defensive end of the floor. He will need to transform into a better leader and more stabilizing force in the locker room.

Harden is 26 years old and a four time all star. He was second in the NBA in scoring last year with 29 points a game. He is still in his prime and Houston is hoping they can win titles with him being their star.

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