The Brooklyn Nets decided to ban Kyrie Irving from the team until he can participate in all team activities. On opening night fans finally got to see how good (or bad) the Nets would be without Irving’s services. The Nets got annihilated by the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks on opening night 104-127.
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James Harden Focused on Staying in Brooklyn
One of the few bright spots of the Nets blowout loss was their star point guard James Harden. “The Beard” flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Nets are hopeful that Harden will be a big part of their franchise going forward. But after missing the deadline to extend him, Harden’s looming free agency in 2023 becomes an interesting story. He addressed his current contract situation after the loss.
“I love it here; I feel at home. It’s nothing to worry about,” Harden said after the loss per ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth. “For me individually, I just want to focus on this year. I don’t plan on leaving this organization.”
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Money Not a Priority for Harden
Harden has a $47.4 million player option on his contract for next season. While it would be a lucrative payday for the All-Star guard, Harden says money is no longer a priority for him.
“It’s not about the money for me,” Harden said to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. “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 as a team for multiple, multiple years at the highest level. Win a championship in New York, the money will come.”
Joe Tsai Confident Harden Will Remain a Net
The Nets’ goal during this offseason was to have Durant, Kyrie, and Harden inked to contract extensions. While Durant signed a 4-year/ $198 million contract extension this summer, Kyrie’s extension is momentarily on hold, and Harden’s is still in wait. But Nets owner Joe Tsai isn’t concerned about Harden’s future with the franchise. He’s confident that he will retire as a Net.
“I don’t worry about [the extension] because I’m very confident that Brooklyn is the place where he wants to be. He wants to play with the top players, other guys like KD, Kyrie [Irving], so I don’t worry about it. Whether or not it’s the season now or later, the way I look at it is he’s already said, ‘I want to play and finish my career in Brooklyn’,” Tsai said to Brian Lewis of the “New York Post.”
“He’s actually said that. Our job is to make sure that he continues to feel that way. Obviously, if we win a championship and also have the chance to win multiple championships down the road, that’s going to be even more convincing, more compelling. I agree with him that Brooklyn is the best place to be, so there’s really no argument there. And as for the timing, we just respect his sense of timing and let things play out. Obviously, we’re very committed to having him in Brooklyn for the long haul.”
For now, the Nets’ failure to ink Harden to an extension is not a big deal. But with the ongoing Kyrie saga, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on.