Las Vegas oddsmakers agree: James Harden might be right about betting on himself as MVP
Injuries to Joel Embiid and LeBron James may have created an opening for James Harden to win his second NBA Most Valuable Player award.Confident.
James Harden is returning to Houston on Wednesday night for the first time since he forced the Rockets to trade him, and it will be interesting to see how the Brooklyn Nets star is received at the Toyota Center. It sounds like Harden is hoping for a warm welcome. © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden warms up before a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
In an interview with ESPN’s Malika Andrews on Tuesday, Harden spoke about his return to Houston and said he hopes to be “received with love.”
“The love and the appreciation that I’ve given to that city and that I still give to that city, I’m hoping that the favor can be returned,” Harden said.
Nets Big 3 Will Have to Learn How to Play Together on the Fly in the Playoffs
The Nets Big 3 have only played seven games together and won't be on the court for another two weeks. Will it matter?You wouldn't know any of that if you watched the last few months of Nets games, though. That's because the trio has only played seven games together to this point. Irving was on sabbatical for still-unknown reasons when the Harden trade went down and the former Houston Rockets superstar played his first game in black and white on January 16. Starting January 20, the team had two weeks where all were more or less available (Durant didn't dress for two games due to injury management and Harden was inactive for one in that stretch).
The Rockets tried to repair their relationship with Harden before trading him, but the former MVP was not interested in making it work. He told Andrews that he never thought he would leave Houston but realized he had “different goals.”
“The communication between myself and the front office got a little shaky,” Harden said. “And now I look back at it and I see these other scenarios, other situations that are happening, specifically around other players that are in Houston, in different sports. And their transition is going very smooth. And I would’ve hoped for mine to go that smooth, but it didn’t. I am where I am now.”
Harden has donated money and resources to the Houston area in the wake of the winter storms that devastated the region recently. He said he still feels like he is part of the community and wants to help in any way he can.
The Nets are Pushing the Regular Season to its Limits
Can Brooklyn win it all even if its stars barely see the court before the playoffs? View the original article to see embedded media.Welcome to the Morning Shootaround, where every weekday you’ll get a fresh, topical column from one of SI.com’s NBA writers: Howard Beck on Mondays, Chris Mannix on Tuesdays, Michael Pina on Wednesdays, Chris Herring on Thursdays and Rohan Nadkarni on Fridays.Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving still need to catch up to P.J. Tucker, John Wall, and Victor Oladipo—in minutes, that is. That’s how little the Nets’ star trio has actually played at the same time this season.
We’d expect Harden to get a mixed reaction on Wednesday night, though the Rockets are doing their part to keep things classy. While Harden was a great player in Houston for eight seasons, he wasn’t exactly graceful on his way out the door. Some fans aren’t going to forget that.
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Related slideshow: The 25 highest-paid NBA players (Provided by Yardbarker)
The highest-paid NBA players
Every NBA regular is well paid, but some guys are bringing home the bacon big time. These are the most lucrative NBA contracts based on average annual value. Figures are via Spotrac and include extensions that have not yet kicked in.
Why is this list 26 players? Because four players all have the exact same contract. They all happen to be guys who just signed max deals off of their rookie deals. Each of the next four names, Tatum included, have signed five year contracts worth a little over $163 million, or about $32.6 million in annual cash.
Fox is known for his speed, and the Kings will be hoping the speed stays with him as he gets older. Hey, he's only 22, so he'll still be in his prime when this deal is over. While the Kings haven't won much with Fox as their starting point guard, he just averaged over 20 points per game for the first time in his career. Fox isn't the issue in Sacramento.
Mitchell just made his first All-Star team in 2020, and it likely won't be his last. He's a dynamic scorer who has averaged over 20 points per contest in all four seasons of his career. The Louisville product is athlete and can attack the basket with gusto. He and Rudy Gobert complement each other well for the Jazz.
McCollum is forever playing second fiddle to Damian Lillard, who you will see later on this list. The Lehigh alum has averaged over 20 points per game in each of the last four seasons and is also one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA. He will earn around $33 million on average through the rest of his deal.
Kyrie is polarizing, both in his play and in his personality. There is a reason he’s basically been drummed out of two towns, and he hasn’t exactly gotten along great with his teammates in Brooklyn. Still, there will always be somebody to tolerate Irving given his ability. Few people can attack the basket like Kyrie, who makes around $34 million a year.
Nobody would have seen this coming when Siakam was drafted by the Raptors. In fact, in his rookie season he spent time in the G League. However, in his third season he won Most Improved Player, and some thought he could arguably win it again in 2020 based on how he’s turned himself into one of the best players in the NBA. He signed a $137-million contract extension last year.
George is the first player on this last who signed his huge deal with a different team than his current one. PG, who will make $34 million this year, signed his deal with the Thunder but has since been traded to the Clippers (at Kawhi Leonard’s behest). He and Kawhi are a true dynamic duo, as they are both elite players on both sides of the court. Although, people will complain about his performance in the playoffs once again.
Speaking of the Clippers, Griffin signed his hefty contract, worth $171 million, with L.A. However, he has since been traded to the Pistons. His first full season in Detroit went really well, as he averaged 24.5 points per game. Unfortunately, this past season he suffered through injuries and played in only 18 games — and there are still a couple of years left on the deal.
Players as good as Butler rarely move around that much. However, it seems like the 31-year-old may have finally found his home in Miami. So far, Butler has earned his contract on the court, even though his average salary is over $34 million per year. It seems like he's fitting in for once, and he led Miami to the NBA Finals in the bubble.
Playing in Charlotte, Walker was often overlooked. It’s not like the Hornets are ever on TV. And yet he was an All-Star in his last three seasons with the Hornets and then did it again in his first season with the Celtics, his current team. He will make $35 million this season.
Yes, Simmons can’t shoot. Yes, he’s extremely hesitant to shoot threes. On the other hand, who cares? He’s an elite passer who can defend all five positions. The man is the size of a center with the passing skills of an All-Star point guard. Even if he never learns to shoot, and he’s still young, he’ll still be a great player in this league. He signed a five-year extension last year worth $177 million.
Right now Middleton is the highest-paid player on the Bucks, on a five-year, $177 million deal. Sure, that’s because Giannis is on his rookie deal still, and there are questions if the Bucks will be able to afford to re-sign him. That doesn’t mean Middleton isn’t worth the money. A second-round pick who was once an afterthought in a trade, he’s turned into one of the best players in the league. Maybe it’s a little surprising he’s quite this high up the list, but nobody can quibble with his contract.
People seem to think that it is inevitable that Beal will leave Washington eventually, and he was talked about as a trade target before signing his new deal, worth around $127 million. There's two years left on that extension, which paying him an average of almost $36 million. Beal is a great player, and maybe pairing with a new teammate in Russell Westbrook will work out better for him.
Thompson has done some crazy stuff in his career. One time he scored 37 points…in one quarter. He’s a great shooter and a perfect foil to Steph Curry. Part of that is his defensive skill. Curry is not a stalwart on that end, but Thompson has made the All-Defense Second Team once. He signed a five-year, $190 million deal a couple years ago, but unfortunately has been hit horrifically by the injury bug. Klay missed all of his first season under his new deal, and will now miss the 2020-2021 season as well with an Achilles injury.
You may quibble with how Davis got himself out of New Orleans, but the results were just what the Brow wanted. AD was dealt to the Lakers where he and LeBron joined forces to win a title. With James now 36, Davis is the future of this franchise. He's also the owner of a new contract for five years and almost $190 million.
Some people said Paul’s contract is an albatross. After all, he’s 35 and won’t be a free agent until the summer of 2022. On the other hand, he’s still an All-Star-level player, which is why the Suns were willing to trade for him. Yes, he’s lost a step, and he’s likely to lose another before his contract, worth $160 million, is up. It takes money to afford a veteran who is a future Hall of Famer.
Curry is the first player on this list averaging over $40 million a season. That’s what happens when you are maybe the best shooter in NBA history. Steph’s play has helped revolutionize the NBA. He can make a three from anywhere, and that’s how he has won two MVPs and three NBA titles. His first deal he signed was a steal because there were worries about his ankles. In a way, this deal kind of feels like a steal as well.
Durant and Curry were teammates for a minute there, and Durant got a couple of rings. He also caught a lot of flak for gunning for a title by joining the Warriors juggernaut. This was in spite of the fact that — shield your eyes, Curry fans — he was the best player on those Golden State teams. Now Durant is with the Nets…or at least he will be once his Achilles heals. His Brooklyn deal is worth $164 million over four years.
Hey, another of Durant’s former teammates! Westbrook was the last man standing in Oklahoma City, and he averaged a triple-double for three seasons in a row, something previously unthinkable. After a stint with Houston, the mercurial guard has now been moved once again, this time to Washington for the next guy on the list. Sure, Westbrook can’t shoot threes, but he knows how to get buckets and earn his average salary of $41 million.
Honestly, we would have figured Wall had an untradeable contract. Wall was a great player in his prime, but he’s suffered a brutal, cruel run of injury. During the 2018-19 season it was a season-ending heel injury, and then he tore his Achilles tendon at home while recovering from that injury. Wall has not returned to the court since December 2018, but he’s still getting paid a ton of cash, nearly $43 million. And yet, the Rockets were willing to take him on (plus a draft pick) in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
You may not like the way the Beard plays, but you can’t argue with results. He’s led the league in points per game the last three seasons, including averaging a staggering 36.1 points per game last year. When all is said and dude, he will lead the league again in points this year and is going to average comfortably over 30 points...again. Harden’s basketball philosophy melded perfectly with Houston's, but will that still be true with a new head coach and GM in place? There have been murmurs of Harden's desire to be traded, but for now he is in Houston on a four-year, $171-million contract.
When LeBron first signed with the Lakers, he was making "only" $38 million because the team didn't have his Bird Rights or anything. Now he's won a ring in the purple and gold and has seen his average annual value boosted up to a little under $43 million. That's a lot of money for a 36-year-old, but LeBron isn't your average 36-year-old.
We now arrive at the highest-paid player in the NBA. The Blazer is making an average of $44 million per season. He just signed a brand-new extension with a team that owned his Bird rights, which means Portland could pay him more money than any team could pay a player previously. Lillard is deserving of it. He’s an elite shooter and scorer who has made four All-NBA teams already. Now he has the richest deal in the league.
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