The Houston Rockets agreed to a four-year supermax contract extension that will guarantee the five-time all-star James Harden somewhere around $228 million through the 2022-23 season, depending on salary cap fluctuations.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst noted that it is the biggest contract extension in NBA history. Harden is the first to sign under the new designated player veteran extension rule of the NBA, which recently enacted its new collective bargaining agreement.
It allows teams to retain keep star players that they either have drafted or traded for early in their careers. It can only be used for athletes who have earned high-level NBA honors in recent seasons (all-NBA teams, NBA MVP or NBA defensive player of the year). Harden could take advantage of this new rule after earning first-team all-NBA honors after last season, the second time in three years he earned that accolade.
He signed last year a contract extension with the Rockets. There were still two years and $59 million left on that deal. But he could apply into the new designated player veteran extension rule as part of the new CBA, allowing him to sign the new extension now.
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Harden comments: “Houston is home for me. Mr. Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.”
League sources also revealed that the Rockets, who also traded for all-star guard Chris Paul, would put their effort towards trading for Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony in the hopes of creating a superteam that could contend with the Golden State Warrior. Anthony has told the Knicks that he would waive his no-trade clause if a deal could be worked out with Houston, reports ESPN.
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Harden finished second in MVP voting last season and in 2014-15. The Rockets have made the playoffs in all five of his seasons in Houston. Plus, he set career highs in scoring (29.1 ppg, second in the NBA), rebounding (8.1) and assists (an NBA-best 11.2 per game) last season, while leading Houston to the league’s third-best record at 55-27. He and Oscar Robertson are the only NBA players to have averaged at least 29 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds in a single season. No player has scored more points than Harden’s 10,823 since he joined the Rockets for the 2012-13 season.
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