It looks as if ‘The Beard’ will be in Houston at least until the year 2020. James Harden has signed an extension with the Rockets for $83.5 million over the next 4 seasons, according to The Vertical. The timing is a little unusual because Harden still had 2 more years on his current deal. But clearly the Rockets want to secure Harden now and decided to give him a pretty big raise.
Harden was set to make $34.6 million over the next 2 seasons. The extension will give him a $10 million raise next year and $11 million more the following year. In the last two years of his deal, he’ll make $30.4 million and $32.7 million. The big question: Is James Harden the right guy to build a team around?
Harden, undoubtedly, is one of the best scorers in the NBA. He finished second in scoring last season behind Steph Curry. He was also second in 2015 and finished second in the MVP voting. His offensive skills have never been questioned. He also led his team to the Western Conference Finals 2 years ago. However, he’s one of the weakest defenders among superstar players. He came into last season out of shape and had a slow start. There’s speculation that he doesn’t always get along with teammates. With the departure of Dwight Howard, the Rockets are set for a year where they can either take a big step forward or a big step back. Is this the guy that the Rockets should go all in on?
Another question is will other superstars want to play with Harden? We’ve seen high profile free agents shy away from playing with superstar scorers. One prime example is Carmelo Anthony. Playing for the Knicks should be enticing to stars. New York is the biggest market in the country. The Knicks have a storied history. The fans are die-hard. However, the Knicks continue to swing and miss when it comes to signing big stars in free agency. Will players look at the Rockets in a similar light? We’ll start to find out next summer.