Big Beard Big Bank: James Harden Inks Richest Contract Extension in NBA History
By Brandon Simmons
Houston Rockets guard James Harden now has a salary that is as big as his beard. Saturday, the Houston Rockets signed Harden to the richest contract extension in NBA history which will total close to $288 million through the 2022-2023 season. It is a step in a direction towards securing the future of the NBA superstar. Soon after the deal was announced, he released a statement through the Rockets.
“Houston is home for me,” expressed Harden. “Owner Leslie 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.”
Harden was already on a 4 year deal worth over $117 million that he signed in 2015. Since then he has stayed true to the money he was given. In the last two seasons he has averaged around 29 ppg while improving his assist numbers from 7.5 apg to 11.2. The reason for that may have something to do with him switching from shooting guard to point guard when head coach Mike D’Antoni arrived to the team last year. It was a decision a lot of people were uncertain about but it eventually paid off with Harden having one of his best years yet.
Since 2012, Harden has been Houston’s ultimate star. Originally drafted by Oklahoma City, Harden spent 3 seasons with the Thunder before he was traded to the Rockets in 2012. He quickly became an offensive threat when he joined the Rockets by scoring at least 25+ ppg in each of the seasons he has been in town. In 2014, his MVP-level play did not get him the award but it helped push the team to make a deep playoff run into the Conference Finals.
Harden was already making a ton of money but obviously it’s about to get better for his bank. According to ESPN, his salary is expected to jump to $37.8 million in 2019 and a $3 million increase each year after; in 2022 he is expected to be making $46.8 million.
The crazy thing about this contract is that the Rockets do not appear to be done with making offseason moves. This summer they have already traded for guard Chris Paul and are reportedly still a strong landing spot for New York Knick Carmelo Anthony. Signing Harden looks like a huge risk down the line when it’s time to pay Paul or other players such as guard Eric Gordon and forward Trevor Ariza.
This is a great, strategic move on the Houston Rockets’ part. The collective bargaining agreement has jumped and is allowing a lot of players to touch max contracts in the $200 million range. Last week, the Golden State Warriors signed Steph Curry to a huge $200 million contract, which made him the highest player in the league at the moment. In this era of the super teams, if you already have a top 5 player, you might as well pay them what you can and hope to attract other affordable superstars or at least some willing to take a paycut. It’s wishful thinking to believe in the latter, especially when one of those superstars are about to get close to $300 million for the remainder of their contract. However, this is more of an investment to remain a championship contender if not a constant champion.
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