Taurean Prince spoke to Brian Lewis about his contract situation with the Nets —they have to decide by Monday whether to extend him— and it turned into (yet another) player love fest with the Brooklyn organization.
“I want to be here as long as I can. And whatever happens, happens, but I’m just happy to play good basketball,” Prince told The Post. “One hundred percent, yeah. For sure. This is the best organization I’ve been in.
“Top to bottom, from Sean [Marks] all the way to the cooks to the janitors, [everybody’s] involved in welcoming as far as family. I can 100 percent be myself here. That goes a long way as far as players, because it makes your job a lot easier on the court.”
The details of contract talks are these: As a 2016 draft pick (taken eight spots ahead of Caris LeVert), Prince is eligible for an extension (just like LeVert). But the Nets and he have until Monday to cut a deal on that extension starting next July 1. He will be paid $3.5 million this season, the last year on his rookie contract. If there’s no deal on an extension, he will be an restricted free agent, meaning the Nets will have the option of matching any offer sheet he receives.
Prince has been a shot-making machine in preseason. He’s averaging a team-leading 18 points a game and shooting 63.3 percent overall. As Lewis writes, he’s hit “a misprint-like 14-of-19 from deep.“ That works out to 73.7 percent!
Kenny Atkinson, of course, likes what he sees from the 6’7” (in sneakers) forward. He’s picked up the Nets system quickly because it resembles the wide open offense he played under Mike Budenholzer his first two years in Atlanta. He thrived under Budenholzer his first two years in the league. Then last year, he got stuck in Lloyd Pierce’s more staid offense and wound up being a piece in the Allen Crabbe salary dump.
“That’s part of him being with Bud and understanding how we operate, very similar systems,” said Kenny Atkinson, formerly Budenholzer’s lead assistant in Atlanta, explaining his early success. “He told me the terminology is the same he used in Atlanta. That makes the transition smoother for him.
“He’s been excellent quite honestly from Day 1. Now it’s continue that,” Atkinson said. “It’s got to be against Toronto and Minnesota and continue that progression and be that 3-and-D guy he was those first two years in Atlanta. That was his real focus. It’s been real positive.”
Prince has also gotten endorsements from his new teammates.
“I thought [Prince] was a great driver. He can handle the basketball and get to the basket, draw a lot of fouls. He guards different positions well,” DeAndre Jordan said. “He plays different positions for us, 3, 4 whatever we ask him to play. He’s going to be an X factor for us this season.”
No one is saying what the parameters of a deal might look like, but if he should sign a deal longer than two years, Prince will be the eighth player on the roster with a contract three years or longer. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LeVert and Jordan are all under contract for four years, with KD and Kyrie having a player option in year 4. Spencer Dinwiddie, Rodions Kurucs and Nicolas Claxton all have three years left on their deals.
Having so many top players under contract is certainly an ideal situation for basketball operations, but extending Prince, then re-signing Joe Harris next summer would put the Nets in luxury tax territory.
- Nets about to face tough roster decision on Taurean Prince - Brian Lewis - New York Post