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Sean Marks talks ‘Big Three’ extensions, Kyrie Irving and James Harden trade

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In his first extended interview since the absence and return of Kyrie Irving and the trade for James Harden, Sean Marks told WFAN’s Evan Roberts and Craig Carton that he’s looking long term at Brooklyn’s possibilities including plans to offer extensions to his “Big Three.”

“I think we’re definitely committed to these guys. We’re not doing these trades like this thinking ‘Hey look, it’s a fleeting moment here.’” said Marks, when asked about extending Harden, Irving and Kevin Durant. “We want to put ourselves as the leader in the clubhouse. We want these guys to stick around.”

Under the CBA, the Nets can sign the three players this August to extensions that would kick in a year later, the 2022-23 season. The extensions could last through the 2025-26. a total of five seasons, including what is left on the contract. If both sides agree, those extensions would take Durant would be 37, Harden 36 and Irving 34. How much might the extensions cost Joe Tsai? Harden turned down an extension worth $50 million a year before lobbying for a trade to the Nets.

Yossi Gozlan, writing for Hoopshype, laid out what maximum extensions would look like... including what the max numbers would be in 2025-26

Harden: four years, $161.1 million

2026: $57.7 million

Durant: four years, $197.7 million

2026: $54.7 million

Irving: four years, $181.6 million

2026: $50.5 million

That’s three $50 million players on the same team in 2026, Marks couldn’t say whether Durant, Harden and Irving would accept new deals.

“I don’t know if they’re going to accept them,” he said. “We want these guys to stick around, we want them to build here, we want them to be part of something in Brooklyn.”

At the time of the trade for Harden, there were reports that Marks believed acquiring the Rockets point guard would help keep Durant in Brooklyn over the long term. Marks said that KD was not the driving force in trade discussions with the Rockets.

“(KD) was not behind this deal, he was not pushing it ... Was he involved and kept up to speed on this? Absolutely, without a doubt.”

Similarly, the Nets GM said that Irving was also kept informed.

“I’ve had discussions with Kyrie and about this, again, you know obviously over the past week, you know he was dealing with, you know his own his own issues but yes, he was not caught off guard.”

“We’re always looking to see how we can make the team better and moving pieces around, and everyone was kept up to speed on this throughout the process so I could get their thoughts,” Marks told Carton and Roberts. “It’s always been a collaborative effort, and that’s the way we’d like to continue to develop that.”

Asked about trading so many picks — three unprotected first rounders and four swaps of firsts, also unprotected, Marks admitted he had some hesitancy but ultimately, “We’re trying to maximize what we have right now and the window that we’re in with this group.”

He also noted the Nets success with scouting and development, adding that he and and the front office will continue to look for “diamonds in the rough.”

Marks spoke at length about Irving’s absence, noting that Irving’s self-described “pause” led to “waves” of concern.

“I think it comes in waves,” said Marks. “We’ve had conversations the past 10 days they go from level of concern, there’s definitely anxiety, to how can we help him? Are we doing the best we can for this young man? It’d be very naive and pretty callous of us to come out and say we’re pissed off … because let’s be honest, we play a game of basketball here...”

“He even owned that in the press conference that he’s dealing with some personal stuff here, and without a doubt all of us … from time to time … need to take a step back and recharge or refocus. All we can do is support Ky and make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can, and helping him. And he’s showing commitment to honestly helping themselves and getting back out there. And we’ll see that tonight which is going to be great.”

It’s not just about Kyrie, Marks argued.

“As a general manager, as somebody who’s organizing this team, we’re always concerned about all of our players. Kyrie is no different than anybody else, and when a guy reaches out for help, we need to be there.

“We pride ourselves on being a Nets family and we talk about it. So it’s about being available to the player, it’s about supporting him, and sometimes there are hard conversations, sometimes there are easy ones, sometimes it means putting your arm around him.

“You know a lot of these conversations happen in private behind the scenes and we’ll continue to support him in efforts to prop up the team and support the team and do everything we can to put the best group of guys out there.”

And he admitted he was upset on seeing video of the birthday party Irving threw for his father and sister a week and a half ago.

“Yeah without a doubt, and I’ve talked to Kai about it,” said Marks. “And he apologized to not only myself but the team & didn’t shy away from it. And it shows us the humility and the vulnerability to say I was wrong.”

Bottom line, Marks didn’t step back from championship expectations.

“We’re trying to maximize the window we have with this group. To be quite honest, I know what’s at stake. I get it. This is pro sports,” said Marks. “And at the end of the day, our entire front office and coaching staff has the conviction to know that we want to do what’s best for Brooklyn —the borough — and the organization. And that’s doing everything we can to bring a championship here and have success.”

He also discussed the possibility of a Spencer Dinwiddie return, either at the end of this season or next. Although Adrian Wojnarowski reported after Dinwiddie’s injury that the Nets would apply for a disabled player exception, there’s been no reporting to suggest Brooklyn has actually applied.

“I’ll never rule Spencer out of anything, because there are very few guys who have shown the resilience he has to come back from any injury. He loves to prove people wrong, and has a chip on his shoulder,” Marks said. “But, an ACL tear is a serious injury and he has a lot at stake, so while I won’t rule him out, it’s going to be very difficult. There are a lot of things at stake here, but we want what is best for Spencer long-term.”

Marks once again gave a shoutout to Tsai, saying he’s “lucky” to have an owner so “engaged.”

“(Tsai is) engaged and knows what’s going on around the league,” Marks said. “We talk daily, and I love the fact that I have an engaged owner who is constantly asking me questions. We had multiple conversations, and I’m not sure who beat who to the punch. We all met and got a commitment out of Joe Tsai and the players that this is what we wanted to do, and we were ecstatic to do it.”