Well, James Harden finally got his wish.
After weeks of pouting, minimal effort on the court, and blaming seemingly everyone but himself, Harden was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal Wednesday. Harden will reunite with ex-Thunder teammate Kevin Durant in New York for what should be his best chance to win an NBA title yet. It might seem like a perfect situation for Harden, who’s wanted out of Houston for months, but the move will actually cost him $13 million.
James Harden is headed to Brooklyn
Throughout the entirety of James Harden’s tenure with the Rockets, the franchise did everything in its power to build a championship contender around its main asset. Going strictly small ball, bringing in Chris Paul, and replacing Paul with Russell Westbrook were all calculated moves to give Harden the best opportunity to bring Houston a title.
But none of them worked out. The Rockets couldn’t even reach an NBA Finals in the eight full seasons Harden spent with the team. Now, the franchise is staring at an aging roster with puzzle pieces that don’t even fit together, and Harden knew his championship window in Houston had closed.
Harden made it clear even before the 2020-21 season that he wanted out of Houston to join a legitimate contender, and he got his wish Wednesday. The Rockets traded Harden to the Nets in a four-team trade that brought back four first-round picks and four future pick swaps.
Harden finally got what he ultimately wanted, but it’s going to cost him.
Harden has three years left on his $171 million contract
In 2017, Harden and the Rockets agreed to a four-year, $171 million contract extension that runs through 2023. Harden was given the chance to sign an even more lucrative contract last offseason when Houston offered him a two-year extension worth $102 million. Harden would’ve become the first NBA player to ever make over $50 million annually, but he turned down the extension.
Still, Harden is one of the highest-paid players in the league at 31 years old. He’s due to make more than $132 million over the final three years of his current contract. If he stayed in Houston, Harden would’ve seen nearly all of that $132 million hit his bank account, but that won’t be the case in Brooklyn.
James Harden just lost $13.6 million chasing a title
Houston is a dream destination for many NBA players simply because Texas is one of the nine states that doesn’t have state income tax on wages. The only taxes Harden had to pay with the Rockets were federal taxes and jock taxes from playing in other states around the country.
But now that he’s in New York, Harden will be forced to pay an approximately 12.7% tax rate on his remaining contract. According to Michael McCann and Robert Raiola of Sportico, Harden will fork over an additional $13.6 million in taxes over the next three seasons.
Will the $13.6 million sacrifice for Harden pay off with an NBA title?