HOUSTON — There won’t be long and difficult negotiations between James Harden and the Rockets even though he will be cast into a different role.
The current NBA Sixth Man of the Year, who will become a starter with the Rockets, expects to sign a new contract with his new team before the start of the 2012-13 season opener on Wednesday night at Detroit.
“I’ll let them figure it out, them and my agent,” said following his first practice with the Rockets. “My focus now is on Houston and how to make them better.
It has been reported by ESPN that Harden was offered $55.5 million over four years by the Thunder, who went to the NBA Finals last season and are considered one of the favorites to challenge for the championship again. Now he joins a team that has missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and has a completely rebuilt lineup from a year ago, but has no doubt he’ll agree to terms on new deal before the deadline in three days.
Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Rockets could give Harden a four-year deal worth $60.2 million or a five-year contract for $78.6.
“It happened so fast. It happened very fast,” he 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. To be secure, I feel like I’m in a great position with a great team, young guys who want to work hard. It will work itself out.”
Harden left a farewell message on Twitter to the team and city where he carved out a reputation during his first three NBA seasons.
“I would love to Thank Oklahoma City for 3 amazing years!” Harden tweeted on Sunday. “Teammates and Fans were thee best. The love will always be there. Thanks Again.”
Nevertheless, Harden said he is excited to be starting a new leg of his career.
“Houston is a great place to be, great young guys who are willing to work and try to win games,” he said. “I feel like I can do it and bring my talents here.
“It’s definitely different. It’s something we have to learn to deal with. This is a business. Everything happens for a reason. I’m going to try to bring it and play hard and try to win games and do whatever it takes to win.”
In addition to relocating south in both geography and the standings, Harden also travels to a different place in the rotation, going from super sub off the bench in OKC to a place in the starting lineup next to Jeremy Lin in Houston.
“It’s going to take some time, obviously not starting (in the past) and not having as much attention on me,” he said. “It’s going to take some time, but I think I’m ready for it.”