The Thunder offered Harden a four-year, $54 million contract before trading him to the Houston Rockets on Oct. 27 — but they reportedly allowed him just one hour to consider the offer.
“After everything we established — everything we had done — you give me an hour?” Harden told Yahoo! Sports on Monday. “This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt.”
Houston took some of Harden’s pain away after giving him a five-year, $80 million contract to be the star of the show.
In his three years with the Thunder, Harden developed into an All-Star and a scoring threat, but Oklahoma City’s roster was too deep for the team to give Harden a maximum contract while restricting him to a sixth-man role.
“I was there with talented guys in Oklahoma City, some All-Star guys, and I would have been in the back seat there — which I was fine with — but I wouldn’t have gotten to show how talented I really am,” Harden said.
The 23-year-old is getting his chance as Houston’s No. 1 scoring option, and he is taking full advantage of the extra touches that are coming his way. Through three games, Harden is averaging 35.3 points and 6.3 assists per game and is shooting 53 percent from the field. On a roster that boasts only one player with more than three years of NBA experience, Harden is already the face of a franchise that he has been a part of for only 10 days.
Although things didn’t end the way Harden would have liked in Oklahoma City, he is certainly happy with his new beginning in Houston.