James Harden has agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract extension with the Houston Rockets, ESPN reports.
The Rockets acquired Harden in a trade with Oklahoma City Saturday night. Harden started against the Detroit Pistons in the Rockets’ regular season opener Wednesday night.
Houston coach Kevin McHale said, “We have him for this year and five more, so six years. Our goal is to do a good enough job as a staff that we win, make the playoffs, develop the young guys and that we never, ever, ever come to camp again with 13 new guys.”
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said Harden was a “foundational player” at his introductory news conference. Morey was “shocked” that the team managed to sign the 23-year-old.
“I actually can’t come up with any examples of a player of his caliber and age getting traded at the time he was traded – it really has never happened,” Morey said when asked how surprised he was that Harden was available. “So we were obviously very aggressive and we gave up a lot – Oklahoma City does a great job; we gave up some great players in Kevin (Martin) and Jeremy (Lamb) and some great draft picks – but a top player like James really never gets traded so we jumped at the chance.”
Harden will become Houston’s featured player after three seasons of supporting Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in OKC. He said Houston appealed to him because it was one of the top five cities in the NBA, and that “everything is beautiful” there, including the fans and the market.
“We can grow here. We can really grow and build something special,” Harden said.