James Harden, who recently signed the richest contract in NBA history, says he wants to remain a Houston Rocket “forever”.
The 27-year-old American agreed last week a four-year super-maximum contract extension that means he will make $228 million over the next six NBA seasons through 2022-23.
“I know where home is,” Harden said. “I know where I want to be. I know where I want to retire ultimately and where I want to win a championship. Everything is going to happen here in Houston, and that’s the reason I’m here forever.”
Asked Saturday how it felt to have the league’s top contract Harden replied, “It’s cool. I’ve worked extremely hard. But it doesn’t really mean anything without holding that championship up. That’s why I’m in the gym every single day, and I won’t stop until I get it.”
The Rockets signed Harden to the extension despite his disappearing act in the Rockets season-ending playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs.
In game five of the Western Conference semi-finals, Harden delivered a listless performance and game six was even worse. He finished with 10 points, seven assists and six turnovers in the elimination game as they lost the series 4-2. That contrasted with his season averages of 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game which lead to him being named runner-up for the NBA MVP award.
The Rockets traded for Harden in 2012 and built the franchise around him. He has been an all-star in all five of his seasons in Houston.
If Harden’s playoff performance was the result of some missing pieces of the puzzle then the Rockets hope to have remedied that with the signing last month of nine-time all-star guard Chris Paul.
Houston is also still trying to complete a deal with the New York Knicks for forward Carmelo Anthony.
“You work your whole career if you’re myself to get a player of James’ calibre and now Chris’ calibre. We’re excited,” said general manager Daryl Morey. – Agence France-Presse