The new CBA will not allow for players to sign contract extensions in back-to-back offseasons, but the agreement will include a provision that will allow James Harden and Russell Westbrook to do exactly that, Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reports. The new labor agreement will grandfather Harden and Westbrook into the pool of players eligible to be designated for the super-max contracts by their respective teams.
Both players signed contract extensions this past offseason, but the league and the union agreed that neither player – nor the Rockets or Thunder – should be penalized for operating within the current framework, as the teams and players were not aware that the new CBA would offer such a benefit for waiting just one more season.
Westbrook could sign a five-year, $219MM extension with the Thunder that would begin in the 2018/19 season, according to Wojnarowski. Harden could sign with the Rockets for an additional four years and $171MM on top of the $58.7MM he is set to receive over the next two seasons.
Wojnarowski hears that out of the two players, Westbrook is more likely to sign another extension this summer. Harden may prefer to wait until closer to the end of his current deal to gauge whether or not Houston is able to truly become a title contender.
Harden’s current deal includes a player option for the 2019/20, meaning he could become an unrestricted free agent during the 2019 offseason. At that time, Harden will be entering his 10th year in the league, which is another reason he needed to be grandfathered as an eligible player. The new Designated Player Veteran Exception rule covers players entering their eighth or ninth years of service, per Wojnarowski.