In news that surprised none, James Harden, 23, agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract extension earlier today with the Houston Rockets, according to Yahoo! Sports. Then, a few hours later, he displayed why he’s worth every penny of that max deal, tallying 37 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds in Houston’s 105-96 win over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Just how good was Harden? ESPN Stats & Info tweeted his numbers hadn’t been matched on opening night since Sam Cassell in 2005 with the Los Angeles Clippers. A few minutes later, ESPN Stats & Info, crediting the Elias Sports Bureau, tweeted Harden was the first player in NBA history to register at least 30 points and 12 assists in his first game with a new team.
Houston has their star
Rockets fans shouldn’t expect these numbers every night from the beard, but they should nonetheless be very excited — they landed one of the few franchise players in this league. And he’s locked up for five years, with young pieces like Chandler Parsons (11 points, 7 rebounds tonight), Omer Asik (12 & 9) and Jeremy Lin (12 points, 8 assists) around him.
With three top-20 picks in June’s draft, the Rockets also added Royce White and Terrence Jones — both DNP, coach’s decisions tonight — waiting in the wings; the third pick, Jeremy Lamb, was traded to OKC as part of the Harden deal. Kevin McHale’s team isn’t going to compete for much this year, especially in an increasingly crowded Western Conference, but the pieces are in place for success in years to come.
Until then, #fearthebeard.
From around the Association
(Tonight was the deadline to extend players’ rookie contracts, or else they’d become restricted free agents this offseason.)
Per ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Sixers and PG Jrue Holiday have agreed to terms on a four-year, $41 million extension, with incentives that could push deal to $46 million.
From Yahoo! Sports: SG DeMar DeRozan has agreed to a four-year, $40 million extension with the Toronto Raptors.
From K.C. Johnson at the Chicago Tribune: The Bulls and Taj Gibson have agreed to a four-year, $38 million extension.
Per Marcus Thompson II at the San Jose Mercury News: Warriors, Stephen Curry agreed to four-year, $44 million extension.
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