James Harden has been the face of the Houston Rockets since he was traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, and on Saturday, he cashed in with a new deal with the team.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical provided the yearly salary breakdown for Harden's new contract with the Rockets:
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander began the press conference to announce Harden's extension by calling the four-time All-Star "the best player in the NBA," per Mark Berman of Fox 26:
On Monday, the Rockets shared an open letter from Harden to Red Nation:
BigHeadSports had some fun with Harden's limitations on the court and the amount of money he will make:
Troy Hughes of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas also got in a zinger about Harden's game:
While $29.5 million on average does seem like a lot of money, Harden has been an MVP candidate in the past and has led the NBA in total points scored each of the last two seasons. It makes more sense for the Rockets to give him this extension than, say, the Los Angeles Lakers to give Timofey Mozgov $16 million per season.
Jesse Horne of WEAU 13 in Wisconsin used the GIF that we were all thinking of after Harden's extension was announced:
Warren Shaw of Shaw Sports humorously noted that Harden's extension may provide some kind of template for Oklahoma City in its negotiations with its own All-Star guard:
After a disastrous season in which everything seemed to be falling apart for the Rockets, despite making the playoffs with a pedestrian 41-41 record, radio play-by-play announcer Craig Ackerman pointed out that Harden seems to be more in front of things now:
The relationship between Harden and Dwight Howard was reportedly a source of tension in Houston last season, with ESPN.com's Calvin Watkins reporting in April that Howard never felt like he was getting enough respect:
It starts with Harden and Howard, the team's two stars. They have tried to be friends — Harden picked up Howard's tab for dinner in New York on his birthday. During dinner in Phoenix at the All-Star break, the two discussed their on-court issues.
But ultimately, the chemistry between the two hasn't been there. One team source said: "It's cordially bad."
Howard feels he's a star and should be respected in the locker room. Howard, known to be playful with media members, was distant over the last two months of the regular season. He was largely frozen out of the offense despite coaches and players saying he needs the ball.
Howard departed Houston this summer, signing with his hometown Atlanta Hawks. If there was any doubt about whose team the Rockets are, Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey made sure everyone knows Harden is their leader.
Here's the best of the rest reactions from social media after Harden's extension was announced:
In today's era of basketball with constantly escalating salary caps, Harden's deal is right in line with what a premier player makes. He may not be viewed from the outside as one of the league's top five players, depending on your perspective, but the Rockets have the only opinion that matters.
Now that Harden has received his huge payday, the onus is on him to prove that the Rockets aren't foolishly spending their money. It's one thing to be proactive at summer press conferences, but he has to be the leader behind the scenes during the season to make this a wise investment.