NBA

James Harden: All-Star guard rejects Houston Rockets contract extension, seeks Brooklyn Nets trade

Former MVP James Harden has declined the Houston Rockets’ offer of a contract that would pay him an NBA-record $50m per season, and is instead is looking to engineer a trade that would send him to the Brooklyn Nets, according to US reports.

ESPN reported on Monday that Harden turned down an extension for two years and $103m beyond the existing three years and $133m on his contract.

He is reportedly in contact with Nets forward Kevin Durant and guard Kyrie Irving in hopes of forming a Big Three in Brooklyn.

However, there has been no “meaningful dialogue” between the Nets and the Rockets about a Harden deal.

The Rockets have already lost head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey during the offseason.

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D’Antoni parted ways with the Rockets in September after the team lost to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.

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Morey resigned as the Rockets’ GM on October 15, two weeks before the club hired Stephen Silas as its new head coach. The New York Times reported that Harden had wanted the team to hire either Tyronn Lue or John Lucas as D’Antoni’s replacement.

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Harden was joined by Russell Westbrook in Houston last summer, but after the pairs’ failure to make a dent on in the postseason, there appears to be a mutual disinterest in running things back for another season, with Westbrook reportedly also keen to depart the Rockets.

Harden, 31, is an eight-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA performer who has led the NBA in scoring each of the past three seasons. In 2019-20, he averaged 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 68 games.

He has reached the NBA Finals once (playing alongside Durant with the 2011-12 Oklahoma City Thunder) and the Western Conference finals three other times but has yet to win a championship.

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Durant, 32, is set to return in 2020-21 after missing all of last season due to a torn Achilles tendon. He has two championship rings from his time with the Golden State Warriors, winning NBA Finals MVP twice.

Irving, 28, joined the Nets last season after previous stints in Cleveland and Boston. He was a key part of the Cavaliers’ 2015-16 championship team alongside LeBron James.

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