HOUSTON -- Following a news conference to introduce two new Houston Rockets, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, the team stunned reporters by announcing leading scorer James Harden signed a contract extension on Saturday.
The extension, which runs through the 2019-20 season, is worth $118.1 million, according to multiple sources. Harden, who had two years remaining on his original deal with the Rockets, received raises of $26.5 million for 2016-17 and 28.3 million for 2017-18.
In the last two years of the deal, Harden will make base salaries totaling $63.1 million.
"He'll be around here for a while," Rocket owner Leslie Alexander said. "I don't think people appreciate how great he is, but we certainly do."
Last season, Harden, in leading the NBA in minutes, had career-average-highs in points (29) and assists (7.5), while playing in 38.1 minutes per game. Harden also had 12 games with 40 or more points and had 18 games where he finished with double-digit assists.
Anderson and Gordon expressed wanting to play with Harden, whom they believe will help elevate the Rockets beyond the 41-41 record they compiled last season.
When the season ended, Harden said he would be an active participant in the recruiting of free agents and he sat in on meetings for Anderson and Gordon last week.
"Ever since I stepped foot in Houston, there's been nothing but love and support from Les and (GM) Daryl Morey and the front office. It's truly like a home to me. I'm happy to be here another four years and a lot of great things are going to happen. It's been progress, it's been a buildup and the addition of our new signings and a couple of other pieces, some really good things are going to happen next year."
The Rockets officially signed Anderson and Gordon on Saturday afternoon in their attempts to upgrade the roster. Anderson is a stretch four that fits well in new coach Mike D'Antoni's system and Gordon is a strong offensive player, who D'Antoni said will mesh well with Harden.
"Ryan and Eric are two players that are perfect for what we need to get back to Rockets basketball and our winning ways," Morey said.
"We didn't have a great year last year," Alexander said. "We still made the playoffs but we didn't have a great year and it didn't end well. We needed new blood. We needed shooting and we needed guys who are passionate about the game and we got them."
Of course it starts with Harden and outside the Toyota Center a huge sign on an adjacent parking lots listing the legendary centers who played for the Rockets was being taken down, a shooting guard was starting to take over.
"This is home for me," Harden said. "Whatever it takes we try to build and find ways to get better and that's my focus and that's my priority."