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Rockets sign James Harden to largest contract extension in NBA history


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.

Rumor: Magic expected to fire Frank Vogel

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Magic president Jeff Weltman inherited an expensive and bad roster, limiting his options to shape it.

He also inherited coach Frank Vogel, and maybe there’s something Weltman will do about that.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

Orlando’s ongoing malaise, especially after the promise of an unexpected 8-4 start, make it a widely held assumption in coaching circles that Vogel will be dismissed after the franchise’s sixth successive season out of the playoffs.

Perhaps, these people in coaching circles are doing nothing more than connecting dots. Many coaches with poor records – only the Suns and Nets have been worse during Vogel’s two-year tenure – inherited by a new front office get fired.

Or it could be something more concrete, like Orlando putting out feelers for potential replacements. That possibility gives juice to this report.

Vogel has one more guaranteed year left on his contract, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Will ownership pay to oust Vogel? That seems likely. The alternative is paying Weltman to sit on his hands.

This would be a tough break for Vogel, who coached well with the Pacers. The Magic’s roster is just so lacking. Vogel hasn’t impressed in Orlando, but his opportunity to do so has been narrow.

At least it’d be more understandable if he got fired by a losing team. Last time, he got fired by a winning team.

Rumor: Bucks, Jabari Parker could part after season

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Jabari Parker is a confounding fit on the Bucks now and in the future.

Could he and Milwaukee part ways this summer, when he’ll be a restricted free agent?

Gery Woelfel on 105.7 The Fan:

At this very moment, I’d say the odds are slim to none it’s going to happen … that he’ll be on this team next year.

I just don’t see a good fit there. I didn’t bring this up, and I’ve been meaning to do so, but I haven’t. He came very, very close to being traded at the deadline. And I think that spoke volumes of they think of Jabari Parker and whether he’s a part of their future plans.

Bucks executive Alex Lasry denied it:

So did general manager Jon Horst. Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Horst made it clear both on the radio and in a separate interview with the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that the Bucks never had any intention of trading Parker

Teams often discuss trading players then deny it to avoid offending the player. Whether or not they nearly traded Parker, the Bucks would probably respond now similarly.

As far as Parker’s future in Milwaukee, it’s unclear where the well-connected Woelfel’s reporting ends and his analysis begins. There’s a huge difference between trading Parker for value and letting him walk for nothing. Just because the Bucks came close to trading Parker wouldn’t mean they won’t re-sign him.

Shedding Parker would not open cap space without additional moves. It would probably allow Milwaukee to use the full mid-level exception and stay beneath the luxury-tax line. But that’s unlikely to land a player who combines Parker’s age and talent.

Because Parker will be a restricted free agent, the Bucks hold the cards. If he’s upset about trade talks or anything else, he can’t unilaterally leave.

Milwaukee must determine how much to pay Parker and how to utilize him with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Those are hard questions. But the Bucks throwing up their hands and letting Parker walk in free agency isn’t the answer.

Tony Parker: My quad injury 100 times worse than Kawhi Leonard’s

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Tony Parker reportedly led a players-only meeting in which Spurs implored Kawhi Leonard to return.

Leonard injured his quad last season, has played just nine games this season and remains sidelined. The Spurs have reportedly cleared him, but he got second opinions and is waiting for his medical team to clear him.

Parker injured his quad last May then returned in November – and said at the time Leonard would return in 2-3 weeks.

Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News:

It’s not hard to read between these lines.

Though some Spurs reportedly told Leonard to return only once he feels ready, Parker is clearly applying pressure. It’s not working, but he’s apparently not stopping.

These comments don’t befit a healthy organization, which is just so stunning for the Spurs, whose excellent culture has been exalted for year.

Maybe Parker will get his wish, and a shamed-into-playing Leonard will lead San Antonio deep into the playoffs. But it seems more likely these quotes will just increase tension.

Celtics: Kyrie Irving to undergo ‘minimally invasive procedure’ on injured knee

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With uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving‘s knee injury, the Celtics announced a course of action.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that guard Kyrie Irving will tomorrow undergo a minimally invasive procedure to alleviate irritation in his left knee. Further information will be provided following tomorrow’s procedure, and the team will have no further comment until that time.

This is so vague. We barely know more than we did before.

Irving reportedly might need the pins removed from his knee, so that’d be the first guess at the type of procedure. But that’s just a guess.

The Celtics look vulnerable with Irving hobbled, which is big update from yesterday, when the Celtics looked vulnerable with Irving hobbled.