HOUSTON — James Harden has agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract with the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets acquired the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in a stunning trade with the Thunder on Saturday night. Harden is expected to start when Houston opens the regular season in Detroit on Wednesday night.
Houston also picked up the options for forwards Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson for the 2013-14 season, but declined the option on center Cole Aldrich, also acquired from the Thunder, according to the Houston Chronicle. According to the Chronicle, Aldrich is signed for this season, but picking up his option for next season would have guaranteed him $3.245 million in 2013-14 and made him the fourth-highest paid player on the team.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey called Harden a “foundational player” at his introductory news conference this week. He'll become the featured player in Houston after three seasons in a supporting role behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Harden averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the Thunder last season. He started only seven games in three seasons with Oklahoma City but became an indispensable reserve.