Harden’s Real Price Comes Later

There’s no question that the Rockets are simply a better team with James Harden in the lineup and now a better, more stable franchise with his name on a five-year, maximum contract, as allowed by the new collective bargaining agreement.

The deal Harden agreed to will pay him $78.6 million over the length of the contract, an amount the Rockets are more than happy to fork over to what general manager Daryl Morey referred to as a “foundational player.” Even with him on the books, the Rockets will be able to afford another max player next summer in free agency and Houston just became a more attractive free-agent destination.

But this was also an offseason when the Rockets gave out matching $25.1 million, three-year contracts to Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, with each due just under $15 million in the final year. That means in the 2014-15 season, the Rockets will have $45 million tied up in the trio of Harden, Lin and Asik.

How fast can they grow together into a formidable Big Threesome that might contend for a championship and be worthy of that kind of outlay? Or how soon before one of them — Lin or Asik — has to go for salary cap relief?

In this new era of Draconian luxury tax penalties, the clock’s always ticking.


  1. Onur says:

    Seriously, epic fail. Even my 6 year old nephew learned what a poison pill is.

  2. titanblueprint says:

    “That means in the 2014-15 season, the Rockets will have $45 million tied up in the trio of Harden, Lin and Asik.”

    That’s a heavily misleading statement. The “poison-pill” portion of their contracts only apply to Lin and Asik’s original teams. For the Rockets, their contracts are spread evenly on the team salary for all 3 years. Therefore, between Harden, Asik, and Lin, we’ll only have $32 million on the books their 3rd year.

    • Bret says:

      I came to comment the exact same thing. This isn’t the first time I’ve read an article referring to the “poison pill” in the contract incorrectly. The Rockets will still have to pay the $45 million in the 2014-15 but the cap hit is only $32 million. I’m actually surprised that more teams haven’t employed such a strategy when going after restricted free agents, seems like a big hinderance for teams to match, especially when players want to sign elsewhere, like Gordon with Phoenix and Batum with Minnesota. Obviously it helped the Rockets secure the services of Lin and Asik. Personally, I’m glad David Kahn wasn’t smart enough to employ such a tactic with Batum, still so thankful that Portland matched the offer sheet on that one. Of course, it seems odd that such a provision even exists, especially when the league is helping teams retain their unrestricted free agents by allowing them to offer bigger contracts.

    • krespino says:

      Thanks. This has been explained so many times already all over the NBA media and forums and reader comments, I can not believe this correction is still made necessary. I hope this will be the last time any writer will need to be taught on that.