James Harden has agreed to a $118 million contract renegotiation and extension that could take him to the 2019-2020 season. The deal guarantees that James Harden remains a Rocket for at least 3 more seasons, getting an extra year of service from his previous deal in exchange for a $10 million annual raise.
Owner Les Alexander made the surprise announcement during the Saturday afternoon press conference meant to introduce free agent signing Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.
While the new contract only lengthens Harden's stay by 1 extra season, as the last year is a player option, the deal is still a massive win for the front office. The Rockets secure a star player until at least the 2018-2019 season, allowing themselves more breathing room in building a contender with a solid foundation.
They convinced James Harden to show his faith in the franchise, which projects an image of stability and commitment many thought may have wavered due to last season's turmoil. It also demonstrates a willingness to treat their star players well by giving Harden a raise in the middle of his max contract negotiated under a significantly lower salary cap.
This agreement also avoids the awkward reality of having Ryan Anderson becoming the highest paid player on the Rockets.
In a season of change and uncertainty, James Harden's extension is a stabilizing force. As great as it is to see both the front office and James Harden affirm their commitment to each other, it is arguably better to see that owner Les Alexander still has faith in his front office. James Harden is probably Daryl Morey's crowning achievement as the general manager of the Rockets, and his tenure is probably tied to the success of the team with James Harden. After the ultimate failure of the Harden-Howard partnership, it was not entirely clear that Harden's future lies with Houston. If a possible James Harden exit was in the horizon, a possible Morey exit wouldn't be far behind, so it is nice to see the front office pull off something that clarify James Harden's commitment.