The Houston Rockets landed their star player after all, but it came at a hefty price. Shooting guard James Harden has agreed to sign a five-year, $80 million extension with Houston before tonight’s 11:59 ET deadline.
Harden, the regining NBA Sixth Man of the Year and an Olympic gold medalist, was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to Houston on Saturday with center Cole Aldrich, guard Daequan Cook and forward Lazar Hayward. In return, the Thunder got veteran shooting guard Kevin Martin, rookie shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick.
Harden ultimately chose his own path, declining extension offers from the Thunder that topped out at four years and $55.5 million before general manager Sam Presti decided to go a different direction.
Because the rules of the collective bargaining agreement only allowed the Thunder to sign Harden to a four-year extension, his deal with the Rockets will ultimately be about $25 million more than if he had stayed with Oklahoma City.
Even with Harden, the Rockets are hardly among the Western Conference elite. But they are certainly one of the more intriguing teams in the West.
That was the case in July, when they signed former Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin to a three-year, $25.1 million deal that wasn’t matched by New York. With Harden joining him in the backcourt, Houston — 34-32 last season and missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year — is all the more interesting now.