Exploring the risk, rewards for the Rockets and James Harden in free agency (2023)

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Exploring the risk, rewards for the Rockets and James Harden in free agency (12)

What if James Harden did not choke? What if his performance in Philadelphia's Game 7 loss to Boston was not just another elimination game meltdown? What if he fell apart in another make-or-break moment for other reasons?

This could be who he is at this point. Great at times, ordinary at others. Game 7 on Sunday should not be considered definitive, any more than his spectacular, sublime performances in Games 1 and 4 revealed him to still be at the height of his powers.

While Harden decides if he will enter free agency, it's all part of the calculation as the Rockets evaluate if they'd want to bring him back — and at what cost.

With Philadelphia en route to a 3-2 series lead, Harden scored 45 points in Game 1 and 42 in Game 4, But following the 76ers’ face plant Sunday, he will inevitably be labeled by another elimination-game collapse after scoring nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in the 24-point loss to the Celtics. In the three fourth quarters after his sensational Game 4 performance, Harden did not score a point.

For all that had been said about some similarly spectacular flameouts while Harden was with the Rockets, that is not the whole calculation Houston will need to consider.

(Video) How James Harden Failed To Win a Championship with the Houston Rockets

Harden is not the scorer he was with the Rockets, but he remains a brilliant passer. He always was, even when many did not see it in the yearshe was stepping back for 3s and dribble, dribble, dribbling his way to drives. He can still be an offensive savant, and not just because he led the NBA in assists for a second time this season. His vision and savvy have not aged.

Exploring the risk, rewards for the Rockets and James Harden in free agency (13)

Harden, however, has. He will be 34 when next season begins. He does not have the burst or lift he once did. He averaged 5.5 points in the paint in the postseason, roughly half what he typically averaged with the Rockets. He could still drive-and-kick, but if 3-point shooters were not open, he typically would drive and flail, desperately hunting foul calls he did not get.

Harden once said he did not hunt fouls, of which he was often accused, but did seek out contact. He wanted opponents to sacrifice layups or risk fouling him. But now they can defend him without fouling in the lane. That leaves his scoring inordinately dependent on whether his 3-pointers are falling.

That also makes it difficult for him to be the superstar force he once was.

He will continue to occasionally drop some of those sorts of games, as he did twice against the Celtics. The great ones, even as they reach the final stages of their careers, typically do. Harden showed that with his last incredible performance with the Rockets. After he'dhad almost no training camp and was out of shape and out of sorts,he totaled 44 points and 17 assists in the 2020-21 season opener at Portland.

With the current version of the Rockets, Harden on most nights would be the wise old playmaker, somewhat ironically like Chris Paul was in his one season with the Thunder after Houston traded him (when he was one year older than Harden will be next season) and in his initial seasons with the Suns.

There is nothing wrong with that. That could help unlock more of the potential of the Rockets’ young talent, particularly Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Kevin Porter Jr. The fit with Alperen Sengun might even work considering the way Harden so often and so effectively set up Joel Embiid in Philadelphia.

Exploring the risk, rewards for the Rockets and James Harden in free agency (14)

But that’s not how Ime Udoka’s Celtics played. Their offense relied on much more passing and much fewer high pick-and-rolls than typical Harden-driven teams.

That could be because of the talent on hand at the time, rather than a philosophical preference. But that is the only way Harden will excel and the only reason a team would sign him to the sort of contract it would take. If you sign Harden, you commit to putting him in position to do what he does best. It is also worth noting that a lineup with Harden, Green andSengun would be hard-pressed to defend as Udoka will want.

That’s where things could get more complicated than just seeking the best free agent the Rockets might have a chance to land, assuming they don’t use their ample cap space in a trade before signings begin in July.

Harden has an option on the one season, worth $35.6 million, left on his contract. He is expected to opt out to become an unrestricted free agent.

His interest in returning to Houston is real. He repeatedly called it “home” during the season. He has maintained many ties to the city, starting with family that still lives in Houston. He has returned often, even during the season, and has worked out with Rockets players in the offseason. His clumsy departure did not burn bridges, as Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta made clear when he said he intends to one day retire Harden’s No. 13.

But it has never been clear if returning to the Rockets is a preference or a fallback position if things do not work out in Philadelphia, where, despite Sunday’s collapse and surrender, the 76ers are considerably closer to a championship than the Rockets.

Harden said Sunday that he has not thought about his future but offered, “I just want to compete, obviously.”

(Video) What will James Harden’s legacy be with the Houston Rockets? | SportsCenter

He did not say what he wants to compete for. He could believe the Rockets can compete for something if they have him. The ego it takes to be a superstar usually leads to that sort of confidence. But he hopped around from Houston to Brooklyn to Philadelphia looking for a winner.

He sacrificed a sizable chunk of salary to help make that happen with the Sixers. Philadelphiapresident Daryl Morey is still likely to reward that. The NBA’s over-38 rule limits what Philadelphia can offer in the season Harden would begin at 38 (which otherwise could be worth $61.9 million). That means the Sixers can offer $210.1 million for four years, the Rockets $201.7 million over four seasons.

The Rockets would be hard-pressed to offer that much for the mid-30s version of Harden. He remains a marvelous point guard and a fine scorer for such a superb facilitator. He also would immediately lift into playoff contention a team with the worst three-year run in theNBA since he left.

The Rockets, however, went through three seasons of painful losing, rather than bringing in short-term veteran help, to build something more than a team able to contend for a playoff spot. They resisted the urge to seek a shortcut. At the full maximum contract price, Harden would feel like a desperate, short-term boost that could be troublesome at the end of his career.

The Rockets are not a team that by adding Harden can chase a championship in the first seasons of his contract, making it worth spending so heavily at the end of the deal. TheSixers still could think of themselves as that sort of title contender.

With a shorter or more modest contract that better aligns with his role and where he is in his career, Harden could be what the Rockets need: a significant veteran building block.

He would not complete the rebuild. He would not transform them as he did in 2012, when he was traded to the Rockets and his life and theirs changed. But he would make them a significantly better team, which at this point is the idea.

What makes sense for Harden could be about more than basketball. What works for the Rockets is about matching cost with benefits, as it is with most players.

At this stage of his career, he is not the kind of superstar worth any cost it takes to get him. He could be, of all things, part of the process, as long as the Rockets and Harden know what he is compared to what he was.

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(Video) How James Harden's Career Was Destroyed | The Real Story Behind The Beard's Decline


What did the Thunder offer James Harden? ›

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the most consequential trade in NBA history. On October 27, 2012, the OKC Thunder traded James Harden and two other players to the Houston Rockets for a package that included Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and two future first-round picks that became Steven Adams and Mitch McGary.

What was James Harden known for? ›

Harden made seven consecutive All-NBA teams, in a stretch that started in 2013 and went through the 2019-2020 season. James Harden was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 2012, only his third season in the league, as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder as his team made the NBA Finals.

How many steals does James Harden have in his career? ›

James Harden has 1,520 steals in his career.

Does James Harden have a PhD? ›

Yes, James Harden has a PhD in the Immunology program at Stanford University.

What did the Rockets get in the James Harden trade? ›

Rockets get: Victor Oladipo, Rodions Kurucs, Dante Exum, four unprotected first-round picks (Brooklyn 2022, 2024 and 2026, Milwaukee 2022), and four unprotected first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027). Nets get: James Harden.

Why did the OKC Thunder trade James Harden? ›

OKC traded Harden for two simple reasons: 1) it's a small-market team that can't sustain a $100-million payroll, and 2) its depth makes Harden less valuable to them as he was to the rest of the league. Let's first tackle the business part. Simply put, the franchise couldn't afford Harden.

Who is the oldest NBA player? ›

The National Basketball Association was founded on July 6, 1946. In the 76 years since, over 4,500 NBA players have participated in a game. There has never been an older player than Nat Hickey, who still holds the record for oldest NBA player ever, set back in 1948. Hickey was 45 years and 363 days old.

Who is James Harden friend? ›

James Harden and John Hao's friendship is so heartwarming.

Who holds the most steals in NBA? ›

John Stockton

Where does Harden rank all-time? ›

With that being said, Harden has already earned his spot among the all-time greats. A ranking by HoopsHype as The Beard ranked as the 5th-best shooting guard in the history of the game. They have him only behind Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Sixers legend Allen Iverson.

Who has the most steals in NBA? ›

John Stockton, PG

His 3,265 steals are the most in league history by a wide margin -- over 500 more than the next player on this list. In addition, he was the league's steals champion in 1988-89, averaging 3.2 per game, one of seven players to average more than three steals in a season, per StatMuse.

How old is the youngest PhD? ›

The youngest person to be awarded a PhD is the German child prodigy Johann Heinrich Friedrich Karl Witte (born 10 July 1800; better known simply as Karl Witte), who received his doctorate from the University of Giessen, Germany, on 10 April 1814 at the age of 13 years 283 days.

How many billionaires are PhD? ›

P lenty of billionaires never went to college. Some, like Mark Zuckerberg, are famous for dropping out. But at least 35 U.S. billionaires hit the books hard back in the day, spending years in school obtaining a Ph. D.

Who is the most PhD holder in the world? ›

PhD Percentage by Country / Number of Doctorate Degrees per Country 2023
  1. Slovenia. Slovenia is the highest-ranking country in the number of Ph. ...
  2. Switzerland. Switzerland has the second-highest rate of Ph. ...
  3. Luxembourg. ...
  4. United States. ...
  5. Sweden. ...
  6. The United Kingdom. ...
  7. Germany. ...
  8. Australia.

How many picks did Rockets get for Harden? ›

The Crossover graded the mega deal. The Rockets finally traded James Harden on Wednesday afternoon, securing a whopping eight future first-round draft picks and swaps from the Nets in a four-team deal that also includes the Pacers and Cavaliers.

Did Rockets win the Harden trade? ›

WINNER: Houston Rockets

By unloading a disgruntled superstar, the Rockets added Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, three Brooklyn first-round picks (2022, 2024, 2026), a Milwaukee Bucks first (2022, unprotected), and four Brooklyn first-round swaps (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027).

How many games did KD Kyrie and Harden play together? ›

The Brooklyn Nets project was initially centered around the superstar trio of Kyrie Irving, Durant, and James Harden. All three stars played just 16 games together, winning 13 of them.

How much did OKC offer James Harden? ›

The Thunder offered James Harden $53 million. Harden wanted a maximum contract; somewhere between $58 million and $60 million over four years. So the Thunder traded Harden to Houston.

Why did James Harden demand a trade? ›

It was just, there was no structure and even superstars, they need structure," Harden said. "That's what allows us to be the best players and leaders for our respective organizations. ... I just feel like, internally, things weren't what I expected when I was trying to get traded there. I think everybody knows that."

What was the Harden Simmons trade? ›

First, it is important to note that the trade was not a straight-up one-for-one swap; there were other players and picks involved in the trade. Brooklyn Nets received: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, 2022 and 2027 unprotected first-round picks. Philadelphia 76ers received: James Harden and Paul Milsap.

Who is the youngest NBA player to retire? ›

Ex-NBA player Tyrell Terry retires from basketball at just age 22 revealing he has suffered with anxiety and experienced the 'darkest times of his life' while playing professionally.

Who is the youngest NBA player ever? ›

The youngest player ever to play in the NBA was Andrew Bynum, who played his first game only six days after his 18th birthday.

Who is the oldest living NBA Hall of Famer? ›

John Kundla: Oldest living hall of famer still on the ball at 97.

Who is James Harden favorite rapper? ›

But my favorite artist ever is Pac. There's just so many great artists out there, older and new, and I just love hip-hop and music in general.”

What is James Harden diagnosed with? ›

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard James Harden has suffered a right foot tendon strain and is expected to miss a month, sources told ESPN.

Does James Harden have tattoos? ›

There are still a few stars, such as league MVP Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and James Harden, without visible tattoos, but they are increasingly rarities.

Is Harden a 10 time All Star? ›

The 10-time All-Star also had 35 consecutive games with at least five assists, and the Sixers are 6-1 when Harden has at least 14 assists. Asked to evaluate his season, the three-time scoring champion said he's been solid. “But I know I can be better, and I will be,” Harden said.

How many 40 point games does James Harden have? ›

James Harden has 101 games played with 40+ points.

Why Harden is the best scorer of all time? ›

Harden is both the most efficient and the most active perimeter isolation player in the world. Harden's isolation volume and efficiency are both tops in the league. Over 50% of Harden's points stem from isos. None of the league's 11 other 25 PPG scorers are even approaching 30%.

Has anyone had 10 steals in an NBA game? ›

Long before Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen teamed up to torment opponents on both ends of the court during the Chicago Bulls' championship years, Jordan had 10 steals against the Nets in January of 1988. Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell did it against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 3, 2021.

Who has the most double doubles in NBA history? ›

In league history, the record for most career double-doubles is 968, held by Wilt Chamberlain. Special double-doubles are rare. One such achievement is sometimes called a 20–20, double double-double, or double-20, when a player accumulates 20 or more in two statistics in a game.

Who has the most layups in the NBA? ›

The player with the highest Layup Attribute Rating among current players on NBA 2K23 is Luka Doncic. He is followed by LeBron James in second place, while Giannis Antetokounmpo is third.

Who is statistically the best NBA player? ›

After playing 1,560 games, Abdul-Jabbar set the all-time scoring record with 38,387 points.

Where is Steph Curry on the scoring list? ›

9Jerry West6321
10Tony Parker7758
11Stephen Curry5492
12Dwyane Wade6697
9 more rows

Is Harden better than KD? ›

On the offensive end, Durant is a more efficient scorer, averaging more points per shot than Harden. When it comes to overall impact on the game, Durant is the better player. He has the ability to take over a game on both ends of the court and is the more versatile player of the two.

Has anyone ever had a quadruple double in the NBA? ›

The only other NBA players who have ever finished a game with a quadruple-double are Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. Olajuwon achieved the rare feat with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 11 blocks and 10 assists compared to 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 blocks for Robinson.

What player has the best defense in the NBA? ›

Anthony Davis has reclaimed the title of best defensive player in the NBA after dominating Jaren Jackson Jr.

Who has the most triple doubles in NBA history? ›

Russell Westbrook holds the record for the most NBA career regular season triple doubles with 198, and is the only player to average a triple-double over four different seasons.

Who is the youngest to go to Harvard? ›

Eugenie Carys de Silva
  • Language.
  • Watch.
  • Edit.

Who is the youngest Harvard? ›

HARVARD A.B. AT 16.; William James Sidis the Youngest Student to Get That Degree There.
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Who is the youngest female PhD? ›

D. scholar from the city has become the youngest person and also the first woman in India to be awarded a doctoral degree at the age of just 22 years. Hailing from Narayanaguda in the city Naina Jaiswal received her doctorate from Adikavi Nannaya University, Rajamahendravaram in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Who has 7 Phds? ›

Robert Bruce Banner or 'The Hulk' has not one but 7 PhD's. Biomedical engineering- Banner started out thinking he was researching new medical applications of gamma radiation and from my understanding he mainly had to deal with instrumentation of machines needed for gamma ray creation.

How rare are Phds? ›

According to the OECD's Education at a Glance 2022 report, 1.3% of adults (25-64 year-olds) held a PhD in 2021 across the thirty-eight OECD countries. There are of course country-specific differences. In Denmark and Germany, for instance, roughly 1% of the total population held a PhD in 2021.

What degree has the most billionaires? ›

Fittingly, the most common subject matter for higher education was economics and finance, suggesting that when you know money, you know how to make money! Billionaires such as Warren Buffett, Alice Walton, and Elon Musk have degrees in economics.

What is the hardest PhD? ›

1. Boarded Medical Doctor: After spending about eight years to earn your first degree, you are faced with between three and six years of residency. This is the most competitive field in education which means you must have passed through a very rigorous process to earn this certificate.

Who has 5 PhDs? ›

US-Sierra Leonean Abdul Karim Bangura is perhaps the most educated man in the world with 5 PhDs.

Why is PhD rare? ›

PhDs are rare and they are valuable. But, PhDs are not rare because they are close to extinction. In fact, according to the National Science Foundation, more PhDs are being granted than ever before. PhDs are rare because they are difficult to earn — they are valuable.

What is James Harden shoe deal? ›

However, one constant backer of Harden was adidas. The German company signed the sixth man turned superstar to a 13-year, $200 million sneaker deal in August 2015. A little over a year later, Harden's signature sneaker line launched to critical acclaim.

What did the Thunder get for Chris Paul? ›

The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns for four players and a first-round draft pick on Monday. The Suns sent Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick to Oklahoma City.

What is the new James Harden deal? ›

The team announced the pact, which had been previously reported, on July 27. The deal is worth slightly over $68 million, paying him about $33 million this season with a $35 million player option for the 2023-24 season.

How much did OKC offer KD? ›

Well, the Thunder offered him a 5-year, $149 million contract in July 2016, and Durant said no. He signed a 2-year, $54.3 million deal with the Warriors.

How much was James Harden pay cut? ›

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden will take a $15 million pay cut next season and sign with the team on a new two-year deal, sources tell The Athletic. The new deal will include a player option in the second year.

Who did OKC get in the Harden trade? ›

No team has a Big Three quite like that. The Thunder famously traded Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin and a trio of future draft picks, favoring the upside of Serge Ibaka and financial flexibility over re-signing Harden to a hefty extension.

Do NBA players pay for their shoes? ›

Every NBA team has a storage room either at their arena or facility where they have a bunch of shoes in their team's colors that brands send them. For players who don't have any shoe deal, their team's equipment manager will typically provide them with free shoes from this room.

How much does Adidas pay Harden? ›

He's slated to earn nearly $15.8 million next season with the Rockets, and he has raked in more than $47.2 million for his career, according to Basketball-Reference.com. So James Harden gets a $200m deal from adidas. That's more than T-Mac or Allen Iverson made in NBA salary.

How much is James Harden shoe contract worth? ›

Today marks the official beginning of the James Harden adidas deal, a deal that's worth a reported $200 million. The brand has already sent out one social media message celebrating the new partnership, seen above.

What did the Thunder get for Russ? ›

The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to a blockbuster trade that will send Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, where he'll be reunited with James Harden, league sources told ESPN. The Rockets will send guard Chris Paul, two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026, both protected Nos.

What did Houston get in the Westbrook trade? ›

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded guard Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for guard Chris Paul and a pair of first-round draft picks, multiple media outlets reported on Thursday night.

What did Thunder get for Westbrook trade? ›

The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, league sources tell ESPN. Bobby Marks of ESPN also reports that the 15 percent trade kicker as part of Westbrook's contract will be voided.

Who is the highest paid NBA player? ›

Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors) is the highest-paid player in the NBA for the 2022-23 season.

How much did Houston offer James Harden? ›

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets offered Harden a two-year, $103 million extension in addition to the $132.9 million he's owed over the next three seasons. However, the eight-time All-Star rebuffed Houston and "made it clear to ownership that he's singularly focused on a trade to the Brooklyn Nets."

How much does James Harden make a game? ›

Now, there are a lot of interesting facts about the contract you'll find by simply scrolling through Twitter, but there's one fact or stat that stands out above the rest and it's how much Harden will make per game during the 2022-23 season. $570,732: PER GAME salary of James Harden in the 2022-23 season.


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