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With free agency on the horizon, Joe Harris makes it clear – Brooklyn is where he wants to be

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Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Quarantined like the rest of us, Joe Harris took some time out yesterday to chat with Nets play-by-play man Ian Eagle on the NBA’s Instagram Live.

While much of the discussion between Harris and Eagle consisted of catching up, describing life in quarantine —how he practices his form by constantly “shooting” a ball up in the air even watching NetFlix and his love for the Sonics growing up as a Washington native. When asked about his year-by-year improvement with the Nets, Harris, an impending free agent, confirmed he’d love to make Brooklyn a long-term home.

“In an ideal world, I would play my whole career in Brooklyn.” Harris said. “I came in with Sean Marks, even the ownership. It’s just one of those things where you have a close connection with a lot of people that are within the organization.

“You kind of all came in together. Now I’ve been here for four years and built unbelievable relationships… It’s amazing just to see where we’ve gone from year one to now. And I obviously want to be a part of that, and a part of it for a long time.”

Solidifying himself as another scrap heap find by Sean Marks, Harris inked a two-year, $16-million extension with the Nets in the summer of 2018. Over the past two seasons, “Joey Buckets” has continued to make leaps in his game across the board — very clearly outperforming his contract.

A year after leading the NBA in 3-point percentage at 47.4 percent and taking home the All-Star Weekend 3-point contest title, Harris has backed up his breakout year with some more growth. Harris was averaging a career high 13.9 points per game before the season was suspended, improving his mid-range efficiency while marginally growing as a defender and penetrator.

Prior to the NBA stoppage, league sources suggested that Harris could command an annual salary between $12-million and $15-million — likely on a three or four-year deal. However, the effects of the league’s stoppage on owners pockets and the league as a whole have been drastic — on top of the China fiasco last fall — and it remains to be seen how much those financial hardships will affect contracts and teams’ willingness to spend this summer.

This isn’t the first time this season that Harris has expressed his interest in returning to Brooklyn. Before the NBA’s suspension, he was asked if he wanted to stick with the Nets. Harris told Brian Lewis of the NY Post:

“Yeah, definitely! Why wouldn’t you?”

The thought of playing with two champions in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is clearly enticing for a shooter like Harris.

“Obviously those are guys who I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year.” Harris said. “They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and are playing. I don’t see that there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”

According to multiple reports, Harris took a slight discount to remain with Brooklyn in 2018. Might he do the same this time around? Harris joked earlier this season that he already makes too much money to play a game.

The Nets hold Harris’ Bird Rights, so they can go over the salary cap to re-sign him and offer more than any other team can. While Harris is likely to garner a significant raise from his current salary of $7.7-million, owner Joe Tsai has given every indication that he’s ready and willing to invest whatever is necessary to aid the Nets in their championship quest.

After all, among sports team owners, Forbes recently named Tsai ninth in the world with an estimated fortune of $10-billion. In that case, even with the potential of the luxury tax threshold and cap being lowered post-pandemic, signing Harris should be a no-brainer. Brooklyn cannot afford to lose Harris for nothing.

There is the possibility that Brooklyn could get something back for Harris in a complicated sign and trade scenario.

Harris is just the first of a few high profile Nets due for extensions over the coming seasons. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen could be free agents as soon as summer 2021. Harris is first step — an important one — for Tsai and the new ownership group. How the Nets handle the Harris negotiations could be quite illuminating about the commitment of ownership moving forward.

Marks alluded that he has the green light from ownership to go into the tax. In January, the Nets GM told ESPN’s Malika Andrews:

“We’re going to be a tax team. We are married to that. There’s a limited amount of times and ways you can continue to add to your team. You better do it now. You’re gearing up for a run.”

Gearing up for a run, indeed.

Joe Harris wants to stick in Brooklyn, the Nets want him back, and say they are ready to spend into the tax. Should be easy, right?

Harris also talked about his teammates who he said are all good.

“Yeah, everybody is good health-wise thankfully,” Harris said Monday in an Instagram Live session on the NBA account. “Obviously crazy times for everybody, but definitely fortunate on my side of things that everything is going well.”