Rock­ets sign Har­den to $228 million deal, NBA’s rich­est

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The Beard has the rich­est con­tract in NBA his­tory. The Hous­ton Rock­ets signed guard James Har­den to a four-year con­tract ex­ten­sion for about $160 million Satur­day, giv­ing him a to­tal six-year deal with $228 million guar­an­teed. With Har­den un­der con­tract on his ex­ist­ing deal for an­other two sea­sons, the ex­ten­sion will not af­fect Hous­ton’s ag­gres­sive pur­suit of free agents this sum­mer as the Rock­ets try to make a run at the Golden State War­riors.

“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,” Rock­ets owner Les­lie Alexan­der said in a state­ment is­sued by the team. “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.”

Har­den is com­ing off of his finest sea­son. Mov­ing to point guard for new coach Mike D’An­toni, Har­den av­er­aged 29.1 points, an NBA-lead­ing 11.2 as­sists and 8.1 re­bounds and fin­ished sec­ond in the MVP race to for­mer Ok­la­homa City team­mate Rus­sell West­brook.

Har­den’s do-it-all sea­son helped the Rock­ets bounce back from a mas­sively dis­ap­point­ing 2015-16 sea­son that col­lapsed un­der the weight of chem­istry is­sues with the All-Star guard and big man Dwight Howard. With Howard gone, the Rock­ets put Har­den at the cen­ter of ev­ery­thing they do on of­fense, and it paid off in a ma­jor way.

Hous­ton went 55-27 in the reg­u­lar sea­son and beat West­brook and the Thun­der in the first round of the West­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals. “Hous­ton is home for me,” Har­den said. “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.”

ESPN first re­ported the con­tract de­tails. Har­den seemed to run out of gas a bit in their semi­fi­nals loss to the San An­to­nio Spurs, and GM Daryl Morey has worked quickly to get him some help this sum­mer.

Morey traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul, a bold move that gives the Rock­ets as tal­ented a back­court as any team in the league. Morey also signed rugged for­ward P.J. Tucker to boost the de­fense and brought Nene back as well.

And he’s not done yet. This me­chan­ics for this ex­ten­sion are new to the NBA in the lat­est ver­sion of the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment. Har­den was named first team All-NBA, mak­ing him el­i­gi­ble for a lu­cra­tive, four-year “su­per­max” ex­ten­sion that gives him longterm se­cu­rity and also sends a mes­sage to the rest of the league that the Rock­ets are com­mit­ted to sta­bil­ity as they try to chal­lenge the War­riors in the West.


SAN FRAN­CISCO: Dee Gor­don #9 of the Miami Mar­lins dives and throws to first base throw­ing out Bran­don Craw­ford #35 of the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants on the play in the bot­tom of the six in­ning at AT&T Park on Satur­day in San Fran­cisco, Cal­i­for­nia.

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