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After Game 6 Houston Rockets’ James Harden Faces Free Agency



Folks will talk about James Harden’s miserable Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs for a long time, but that should not take away too much from his incredible regular season where he should be the MVP. And while he probably will not win that award, Harden will just have to be content with being this season’s only unanimous choice to the All-NBA First Team.

Daryl Morey, in his usual snarky and sarcastic way, congratulated Harden for making the All-NBA First Team after failing to make any All-NBA team last year despite averaging over 29 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds. But from a certain perspective, the real important thing for the Rockets and Harden’s future is that Harden made an All-NBA team at all. Salary cap implications lie behind that announcement. He could make more money by using

Harden the Free Agent?

The Rockets have done their best over the years to ensure that there is no buzz about how Harden could potentially leave them as a free agent. Last season, the Rockets renegotiated a four-year, $118 million extension with Harden. Harden got paid more per season as a result, while the Rockets got an extra season of Harden, who can now be a free agent at the earliest in 2019. There is no doubt that if the Rockets had not done that renegotiation, there would probably be some speculation this offseason about whether Harden would stay with the Rockets.

The fact that Harden made the All-NBA team also adds another factor in Harden’s future with the Rockets. By making the All-NBA team, Harden will now be eligible for a new contract extension which would pay him $160 million for four years, far more than he could make with any other NBA team. If he signs such an extension, Harden could be a guaranteed Rockets up until the age of 34 in six years from now.

Building a Team

Obviously, there is no real discussion about whether Harden deserves such a contract now. Even the most skeptical fan will admit that Harden is at worst a top 10 player in the NBA and more like top 5. And while there will always be the question about whether Harden will be worth over $40 million at 34, Harden’s game should undoubtedly age very well. Harden is not a high-flying dunker like Westbrook, but a crafty technician who knows how to use his skills and guile to get to the rim which will function well even when his athleticism declines.

But this upcoming extension, as well as the impending free agency of Clint Capela and the ongoing Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson contracts, means that Morey has his job cut out for him. The humiliating Game 6 defeat shows that the Rockets will need to upgrade somewhere talent wise, and Morey will have to do it while still keeping costs down to make money for the Harden extension.

This offseason could determine how Houston can build an effective team around Harden to keep him here while also giving him the money he wants and deserves after years of incredible play.