James Harden isn’t here to sugarcoat anything. He’s here to play basketball and make lots of money.
And tell the truth.
On Saturday, the Houston Rockets announced that they renegotiated a four-year, $118 million contract with their lone superstar. The move allows Harden’s salary to jump immediately, in 2016-17, and it ensures he won’t reach free agency before 2019, when he has a player option for the 2019-20 season.
A couple of days after the announcement, the Rockets tweeted out a letter Harden wrote to their fans, wherein he isn’t shy about saying Houston isn’t the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers:
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) July 11, 2016
Props to Harden for telling it like it is. The Rockets are not a superteam. Far from it. They have less star power now than they did last year after Dwight Howard’s departure.
This isn’t to say they aren’t a playoff team. They should be. The pieces on the current roster just fit. A projected starting five of Harden, Patrick Beverley, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela should destroy opposing defenses. But no, the Rockets are not a superteam, nor are they on the verge of forming one, with only one All-Star in their possession.
We can nevertheless expect general manager Daryl Morey to change that. The Rockets are always in position to try poaching the biggest free agents. That’s not going to change. They don’t always get their guy (see: Chris Bosh in 2014). They sometimes don’t even land a meeting with their guy (see: Kevin Durant in 2016). But they are perpetually aggressive and should stay that way as we look ahead to 2017 free agency—at which point the Rockets will presumably try bringing themselves one step closer toward becoming the super team Harden knows they are not.