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Just as Nets No. 1 was Joe Harris, Harris’ No. 1 priority was the Nets

Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Joe Harris did not give a lot of thought to other destinations as a free agent. For the 29-year-old, his number one priority was to remain in a Nets uniform.

“I narrowed in with the Nets,” said Harris in a media session on Tuesday afternoon. “Obviously, with the NBA’s rules, you aren’t necessarily allowed a lot of time to speak with these teams. You’re only allowed to talk, obviously, the day that free agency started at 6 p.m. But I was allowed to have dialogue with the team you’re currently with.

“So, I obviously talked with (general manger) Sean (Marks), (head coach) Steve (Nash), my teammates a lot in the lead-up, and I didn’t even necessarily give a ton of thought to leaving. You still have to take your self-interest as the No. 1 priority, so, you have to entertain other options, but at the end of the day, my No. 1 priority was also to try and come back to Brooklyn.”

Harris, who a little less than five years ago was traded, underwent ankle surgery, and was cut in a single day, said he’ll always value the opportunity the Nets and general manager Sean Marks gave to him.

“I was allowed an opportunity here when I really didn’t have a ton elsewhere four years ago,” said Harris. “Or even the second time I went through free agency here – or I guess essentially the first time, where I was having to negotiate a few years ago – and it meant a lot to me to come back to a place where I was familiar with, having coaches, front office, teammates that all believe in you and value you. For me personally, that was one of the biggest things, and again that played a critical role in why I wanted to come back to Brooklyn again.”

Marks always valued Harris and noted re-signing the sharpshooter as his No. 1 priority throughout the offseason. The Nets general manager talked about the value Harris brings to the Nets organization and emphasized that the 29-year-old ‘epitomized what it means to be a Brooklyn Net.’

“From the moment he arrived in Brooklyn, Joe has epitomized what it means to be a Net,” said Marks in a team statement Monday. “On the court, Joe has improved every season, and he’s worked diligently over the past four years to become a core member of our team. He is an excellent teammate, and his approach to the game, along with his character, have had a positive impact on all facets of the organization.”

“Off the court, Joe is an outstanding person, and he and his family have become integral parts of our Nets family. While we celebrate all that Joe has accomplished in his career up until this point, we’re also eagerly looking ahead to the next chapter of his career in Brooklyn.”

Fresh off a new four-year contract worth $72 million (with annual $500,000 bonuses if the Nets win it all), Harris is excited to play with a Nets healthy roster. The 29-year-old noted what he’s seen from Kevin Durant looks and what he’s heard about Kyrie Irving. He hopes the work his teammates put in to get healthy —and ready— translates into a great season.

“I couldn’t be more excited to play with these guys,” said Harris. “Kevin looks great in terms of coming back from the injury. I’ve heard the same with Ky. A lot of these guys that had sort of nagging stuff it seems like the offseason priority to them was to just get healthy and we’re fortunate I guess in sort of a sense where they were able to have a longer offseason.

“Although we weren’t able to have them in the bubble, it did allow them time to recover, get healthy and then hopefully that will translate to a great season next year.”

Harris credits the Nets for putting together an ‘incredible staff’ this offseason, noting his excitement and the importance of the Nets retaining Jacque Vaughn, who will serve as the Nets lead assistant and one, if not, the highest-paid assistant in the league. To Harris, that transition so far ‘seamless.’

“I think we have an incredible staff,” said Harris. “Obviously, a few changes, but still a lot of the same guys around too. I think we were really lucky to keep Jacque Vaughn around, he’s been here the last few years, as has Adam Harrington, Jordan Ott, Trevor Hendry (the Nets respected video coordinated). So, you have a lot of familiarity there on the staff, but then all the guys that we’ve brought in, it’s been a seamless transition and it feels like they’ve been here for a lot longer than they have.”

Like Steve Nash, Harris is not shying away from the Nets championship expectations. He acknowledges that there is a long road ahead but hopes to build chemistry and continuity along the way to meet those expectations.

“Collectively as a group we obviously have big aspirations and goals,” said Harris. “We are obviously not going to look super far ahead. We know it is a long road to where we want to go and it is about sort of taking it one day at a time and trying to get better, build that continuity. Build that chemistry. But at the end of the road, we definitely have championship aspirations and we would be fooling ourselves if we said we didn’t.”

As for Harris, his new deal is worth $72 million instead of the reported $75 million, according to Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. Here is how his contract breaks down. Harris is currently under contract for 2023-24.

After signing his new contract of four-year worth $72 million, Harris becomes one of the biggest contracts in the franchise’s history. Only Jason Kidd, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Richard Jefferson have signed for more.

Brooklyn currently has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will become partially guaranteed on Thursday ($150,000).