Harden looks ahead to starting, extension
by Chris Duncan, The Associated Press
HOUSTON — James Harden plans to sign a long-term extension with the Houston Rockets before the regular season begins.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year joined his new team Sunday after he was traded to the Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder late Saturday. The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston.
“It happened so fast, it happened very fast,” Harden said. “But this is the position I’m in now. Just have to make the best out of it. I’m with Houston now. I just have to come in here and play hard and win games.”
The Rockets traded for Harden on the night before holding a public practice here at Toyota Center. An hour before the practice started, fans peered into the shaded, street-level glass windows to catch a glimpse of the new arrival on the Rockets’ practice court.
“To be secure, I feel like I’m in a great position with a great team, young guys who want to work hard,” Harden said. “It (the extension) will work itself out.
“I’ll let them figure it out, them and my agent. My focus now is on Houston and how to make them better.”
The Rockets can offer a max five-year, $78.6 million contract or a four-year,
$60.2 million deal.
The 23-year-old Harden says he’ll have to adjust to a rebuilding team after playing for a contender in Oklahoma City.
The acquisition of Harden completes an offseason overhaul for the Rockets, who have missed the playoffs the last three seasons. Houston cut or traded every veteran player, including point guard Kyle Lowry, backup Goran Dragic, shooting guard Courtney Lee and popular forward Luis Scola.
The Thunder, meanwhile, are one of the favorites to win the Western Conference after losing to the Miami Heat in last year’s finals.
“This is definitely different,” Harden said. “But it’s something that we have to learn to deal with. This is a business and everything happens for a reason. I’m going to just to play hard, … [For more on Harden looks ahead to starting, extension with Rockets, click here.]