It was August 7 when Sean Marks said that the extensions for all three members of Brooklyn’s “Big Three” would be “signed, sealed, delivered” by the first day of training camp. Fast forward to September 27, the day training camp and only Kevin Durant is locked up for the extended future while pen has yet to hit paper for both Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
One day after leading Team USA to gold at the Tokyo Olympics, the Nets officially announced Durant’s four-year, $198 million extension with Brooklyn, keeping the superstar in black-and-white till 2026. The 32-year-old said then it was the perfect timing to lock up his future with the Nets. Then Monday, he spoke again about his timing.
“I just wanted to be here and thought it was perfect timing for me to do so. It was good to get it done and commit to the team, the organization, my teammates and we continue to keep working from here,” said Durant on his extension at Media Day.
So far, Durant is the lone member of the “Big Three” to get things done but the trio has had discussions on playing together for a long time as members of the Nets, he said. Durant respects that it’s Irving and Harden’s individual decision and those decisions will come on their own time.
“We all three talked about playing together for a long time but their situation is going to happen on their time and when they want it to happen. We all respect that,” Durant said.
Harden will be “patient” in terms of his contract extension. The 32-year-old Harden is eligible to sign for up to three years and $161.1 million. The reason Harden is being patient with his approach is due to where his main focus lies — delivering the Nets their first elusive championship.
“Honestly, I’m taking my time. I got to focus on trying to bring a championship to this city. As far as the extension, I’m just being patient with it,” said Harden on his eligible extension with Brooklyn. “I went through a lot last year and I want to make sure I’m in the right mindset and knowing long-term that ultimately I want to be in Brooklyn for the rest of my career. There’s no rush and we’re going to have fun with it.”
On YES Network’s coverage of Media Day, Harden went farther...
“I’ve had multiple talks with Sean (Marks) and Joe (Tsai). I don’t see myself anywhere else, honestly. I want to bring a championship to the city. I’m here.”
If Harden doesn’t ink an extension, he is eligible to make even more money signing an extension next off-season. It’s a great situation for Harden to be in financially but he says it’s not about the money in his eyes. Harden, who declined a two-year maximum extension from the Rockets worth $103 million, said he’s dictating his decision more on being a part of a dynasty-caliber team.
“It’s not about the money to me. I’ve been on enough teams where we fell short so my mindset and my goal is to make sure we’re able to build and continue to build this team to be able to compete and contend for multiple, multiple years at the highest level. It’s not about the money,” Harden said. “You win a championship in New York, the money will come.”
Enter Irving, who wasn’t present at Media Day Tuesday presumably due to his vaccination status not meeting the New York state indoor arena protocols. Instead, Irving spoke to reporters via Zoom.
Irving, who is eligible to ink a four-year, $181.6 million extension with Brooklyn, is on the same page as his backcourt partner, Harden. The 29-year-old guard also respects Harden’s “patient” approach to contract talks.
“I definitely respect James’ stance. He’s going to do what’s best for him and his family. I know that we’re all really close. We just have open communication with each other so we know how each other feels relatively but we have mutual respect for one another. I know he’s going to do what’s best for him and I’m going to do the same,” Irving said.
Irving also has the opportunity to sign an extension for more money next offseason. He said the conversations between and ownership/management are going well. Like Harden, he said his main focus is delivering a title to Brooklyn and building the team day by day.
“We’re having great talks. It’s going well,” said Irving on extension conversations with Brooklyn. “We know that the future is on our side sort of say just being able to maximize our potential in these next coming years to make a few runs at this championship. We’re just ready to start with a clean slate, build this chemistry the right way and do it one brick at a time. A lot of smiles and a lot of good times that we can create with one another. Ultimately, the goal is a championship.”
The superstars' comments on the eligible extension come nearly a week after Marks said the organization is having “very positive conversations with both guys” and their families. The Nets GM said the extension talks will ramp up in the coming weeks now that his players are back to work.
“We’ve had very positive conversations with both those guys and whether it’s family members, people and so forth, I think it always helps to do these things in person. With this being summer, we’re very cognizant of letting people have their own time away before we all get back into the swing of things here,” Marks said Tuesday at the pre-season press conference at HSS Training Center. “We’re looking forward to sitting down with them over the course of the next week, two weeks, and furthering those discussions.”
Both Harden and Irving both commented on their rehabs as well, Harden from a hamstring, Irving from a sprained ankle. Both said they’re ready. ““I’m 100 percent. I’m back,” said Harden.
Now that Media Day has concluded, the Nets are on their way across the country to Tsai’s home town of San Diego for a five-day training camp. Whether the extensions will be signed at camp with the boss present is an intriguing possibility.
The “Big Three” aren’t the only Nets player eligible for an extension. Nic Claxton is in the last year of his initial three-year deal with Brooklyn. The Nets could give him up to $52 million over four years. But when asked Monday about it, he said he “hasn’t discussed” a contract extension. Without an extension, the 22-year-old would be a restricted free agent come July..
- James Harden isn’t focused on Nets extension - Brian Lewis - New York Post