NBA Notes: Rockets Sign James Harden to NBA-record $228 Million Extension

LAS VEGAS -- The Beard has the richest contract in NBA history.

The Houston Rockets signed guard James Harden to a four-year, $228 million contract extension Saturday. The extension will run through the 2022-23 season. But with Harden under contract on his existing deal for another two seasons, it will not affect Houston's aggressive pursuit of free agents this summer as the Rockets try to make a run at the Golden State Warriors.

"Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game," Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement issued by the team. "Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the city of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship."

Harden is coming off of his finest season. Moving to point guard for new coach Mike D'Antoni, Harden averaged 29.1 points, an NBA-leading 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds and finished second in the MVP race to former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook.

Harden's do-it-all season helped the Rockets bounce back from a massively disappointing 2015-16 season that collapsed under the weight of chemistry issues with the All-Star guard and big man Dwight Howard. With Howard gone, the Rockets put Harden at the center of everything they do on offense, and it paid off in a major way.

Houston went 55-27 in the regular season and beat Westbrook and the Thunder in the first round of the Western Conference semifinals.

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"Houston is home for me," Harden said. "Mr. Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title." (see full story)

AP Source: Jamal Crawford agrees to 2-year deal with Wolves
LAS VEGAS -- A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Jamal Crawford has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The cap-strapped Wolves only had the room exception left to use for the deal, worth about $4.2 million for the upcoming season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Crawford has to clear waivers before signing the deal.

The 37-year-old Crawford averaged 12.3 points in 82 games for the Clippers last season. He was traded to Atlanta to help make room for Danilo Gallinari and reached a buyout agreement with the Hawks.

Crawford gives the Timberwolves a much-needed scorer off of the bench. It continues an aggressive summer that has also seen the additions of Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson (see full story).

Knicks sign free-agent guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
NEW YORK-- The New York Knicks have signed free-agent guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million contract.

The team announced the deal Saturday.

The 6-foot-5 Hardaway returned to the Knicks after two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. Last season, he had career highs in scoring (14.5), assists (2.3), rebounds (2.8), minutes (27.3) and field-goal percentage (.455). In four seasons with New York and Atlanta, he has averages of 11.0 points and 23.4 minutes.

"Bringing back Tim to his original NBA home is an exciting time for him and this franchise," general manager Steve Mills said in a team statement. "As a versatile wing whose game continues to improve, he will fit right into the core of players that make up a roster emphasizing youth, athleticism, accountability and unselfishness."

His father, five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway, is an assistant coach for Detroit (see full story).

Timberwolves' Taj Gibson arrested after NYC traffic stop
MINNEAPOLIS -- New Minnesota Timberwolves player Taj Gibson was arrested for a traffic violation in New York City.

The New York Police Department says a 2016 Mercedes Benz sedan made an illegal U-turn in Queens early Thursday. Police stopped the car and Gibson, who was driving, produced a suspended Illinois driver's license.

The Star Tribune reports Gibson was arrested for driving with a suspended license and a moving violation. He's due in court on Sept. 1.

Gibson recently agreed to a two-year, $28 million contract to play in Minnesota. The deal reunites the 32-year-old power forward with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him for five seasons in Chicago.

The Timberwolves said in a statement Saturday they're aware of the incident involving Gibson and are "confident that the matter has been resolved." (see full story)

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