James Harden signed a boffo $118 million contract extension that makes him very, very rich — and it also lays the Rockets’ future at his swift Euro-stepping feet. Harden has repeatedly asked for and responded to the load: he left OKC to be the main man on his team (mission accomplished) and last year he led the NBA in minutes played — by a lot. No nights off for Harden, even if he got caught occasionally playing matador defense on certain plays.
Still the joyful Harden — see him delight some children with pure exuberance here — is ready for the 2016-17 season to begin. His sneakers may be getting some ridicule on social media, but that won’t bother a man who could cross-over most NBA guards while wearing broken flip-flops. NBA.com reports that Harden, like other stars, is organizing a players-only mini-camp before training camp starts — to build camaraderie and find an early rhythm. But Houston swingman Corey Brewer reveals why the Rockets early gatherings won’t be all laughs, layups and getting familiar. Brewer says of last season, when the Rockets struggled: “Last year was a year that we didn’t like. Every body has a bitter taste in their mouth.” Same taste as the Cleveland Cavaliers had to begin last season, perhaps?