Rockets sign James Harden to largest contract extension in NBA history

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

In 2015, Damian Lillard signed a contract extension that – once he made All-NBA in 2016 and the 2016-17 salary cap landed even higher than expected – became worth $139,888,445 over five years.

James Harden will surpass than on a four-year extension.

Rockets release:

Houston Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander announced today that the team has signed guard James Harden to a four-year contract extension which will run through the 2022-23 season.

“It’s my pleasure to announce we’ve reached agreement with James Harden on a long term contract extension.  Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game,” said Alexander.  “Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the City of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship.  I’m very happy for James, his mother Monja, and their family on this exciting day.”

“Houston is home for me,” said Harden. “Mr. 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 will earn $28,299,399 and $30,421,854 the next two seasons. An extension would kick in for 2019-20, and the exact amount of a max extension won’t be known until that season’s cap is determined.

The latest projection: $169 million over four years.

The Rockets were always going to offer this megadeal. The only question was whether Harden would sign now or wait another year, when he could add five years and a projected $219 million to his current contract as long as he made an All-NBA team next year. (The salary structure over the first four years would be identical to what’s on the table now.)

Harden is Houston’s franchise player – providing not only superstar production, but a superstar presence that lures other stars. The Rockets and Harden have built their identities around each other, a mutual commitment solidified by this landmark extension.

This is in part a message to Chris Paul: Stay in Houston, and Harden will be there. Paul, an unrestricted free agent next summer, will know completely what he’d be buying into.

To some degree, “largest extension in NBA history” is an arbitrary designation. Stephen Curry signed a new five-year contract worth $201 million.

But this is emblematic of the relationship between Harden and the Rockets. Harden was already paid plenty (leaving no incentive to delay an extension and use a low cap hold), and Houston is committed to Harden (meaning no delay in locking him up longer). Now, Harden is reciprocating that faith in him – and earning a lot of money.

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