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Asked about extension, Kevin Durant says all the right things

Chicago Sky v New York Liberty Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

While Kevin Durant is competing for his third Olympic gold medal in Tokyo with Team USA, he will return to the States next month with a big decision: whether to re-up and sign a contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn can extend their “Big Three” — Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden — to long-term deals this offseason. Talks can begin as early as Monday at 6 p.m. ET the opening day of free agency.

Durant spoke about what factors will go into extending his contract with the Nets, speaking only for himself, not Irving or Harden. To the 32-year-old superstar, growing individually and collectively plus a supportive environment are high on his list.

“First of all, you enjoy playing the game. That’s the most important thing and I think we all three enjoy playing with each other. That’s a personal thing and guys different,” Durant said in an question posed by Brian Lewis after Team USA’s practice Tuesday morning Brooklyn time. “I’m sure when that time is right, we’ll all make the right decision for ourselves.”

The “Big Three” can put pen to paper and sign extensions for an additional four years on top of the 2021-22 season. The long-term extension would keep the trio in a Net uniform through the 2025-26 season. On the other end, if any or all of the trio decline, they can play the 2021-22 season and become free agents next summer.

Durant, who sat with Joe and Clara Wu Tsai at a Liberty game prior to the Olympics, said all that the right things.

“Just being in a great environment and being around teammates that enjoy the game. Keep growing individually. That’s the most important thing; how we growing individually. Definitely how we come together as a team. I enjoy seeing my teammates get better. I enjoy getting better and have an environment that encourages that single every day,” Durant added.

According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, Durant isn’t eligible for a five-year extension due to the NBA CBA’s over-38 rule — with Durant (non-bird rights) turning 38 during that contract. He could re-sign with Brooklyn for four years, $197.7 million.

Harden can ink an extension for up to three years, $161.1 million while Irving can do four years, $181.6 million. If Irving decides not to ink an extension this offseason, he is eligible for a five-year, $235 million max contract deal in the 2022 offseason with Brooklyn. Nicolas Claxton is also eligible for an extension, beginning August 2, but he’s limited to four years and around $50 million.

One big question for the Nets is whether the three players will negotiate individually or collectively. Or will Durant and Irving do things as a unit as they did in 2019?

Outside of the Big 3, the Nets will have plenty of decisions to make regarding free agents with the hovering cloud of luxury tax. Brooklyn’s current free agents include Blake Griffin, Jeff Green, Bruce Brown, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Chris Chiozza, Tyler Johnson and Mike James.