Houston Rockets and James Harden Reportedly Agree on 5-Year Extension
If you're still shocked about James Harden being a Houston Rocket, don't worry. You're going to have plenty of time to get used to it.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the 23-year-old signed a five-year extension with the Rockets worth a total of $80 million:
James Harden has agreed to a 5 year, $80 million deal with Houston, source tells Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 31, 2012
When Harden, who was set to become a restricted free agent if he didn't sign an extension by the October 31 deadline, turned down Oklahoma City's offer of $52 million over four years, the Thunder promptly shipped him off to Houston with the speed of a video game.
Considering Daryl Morey and the Rockets had the money to offer Harden the max contract he was looking for, this news doesn't come as a surprise.
Giving away Kevin Martin, lottery-pick Jeremy Lamb and multiple draft picks had to be a tough pill for Houston to swallow, but now that Harden is locked up for the foreseeable future, Rockets fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Because Harden is as good as his beard is awesome.
At the tender age of 22, the former Arizona State star put together arguably the most impressive sixth-man season since Antoine Tyler.
In 31.4 minutes per game in 2011-12, Harden averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.0 steal per game. He shot a ridiculous .491 from the field even though he spent most of his time on the perimeter.
The advanced stats were even better.
Does Harden deserve a max contract?
His true shooting percentage was .660, fourth in the NBA. His effective field-goal percentage was .582. He scored 1.11 points per play, which was better than everyone not named Tyson Chandler or Matt Bonner.
Harden may have technically been a "bench" player, but he finished almost every game for the Thunder as he established himself as an elite pick-and-roll ball-handler, terrific passer, pesky on-ball defender and out-of-this-world efficient offensive player.
Oh, and unless Danny Almonte is in charge of his birth certificate, he won't be in his prime until the end of this new contract.
The Rockets suddenly have a young, intriguing—albeit expensive—core of Harden, point guard Jeremy Lin and center Omer Asik that should carry this team for a long, long time.
Houston, we don't have a problem.
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