Saturday, October 16 2021
James Harden dribbles ball guarded by Giannis Game 6

James Harden dribbles ball guarded by Giannis Game 6

Having the Nets‘ Big Three together for as long as possible is an obvious goal for GM Sean Marks, head coach Steve Nash and the rest of the Brooklyn organization.

Kevin Durant has already signed an extension this offseason, so that’s a start. Could James Harden be next? Speaking at Nets Media Day, he wasn’t definitive on a time frame, but said he doesn’t want to be too hasty with his decision.

“Honestly, I’m taking my time,” he told reporters. “I’m focused on bringing a championship to the city. But as far as extension, I’m just being patient with it. 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. So it’s no rush and we’re going to have fun with it.”

Harden isn’t kidding when he said he went through a ton last season. This time a year ago, he didn’t want to show up to Houston Rockets camp, and when he did, he looked out of shape compared to previous years. Then, he finally got what he wanted with a trade to the Nets mid-season, but injuries — especially his hamstring that kept him off the court in the playoffs despite trying his all to be with his teammates — didn’t allow him to get on a roll.

Now, though, Harden says the hamstring is “100 percent” and he’s ready to go.

But when it comes to the contract, there is a caveat for the All-Star: If he waits until after the season, he could sign for a lot more than an extension either now or midway through Brooklyn’s new campaign. He’s getting $44.3 million this year, but there’s a 2022 player option for $47.4 million that he could decline and eventually sign a max deal elsewhere.

“It’s not about the money to me,” he said. “I’ve been on enough teams where we fell short. So I think 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. So It’s not about the money. You win a championship in New York, you won’t need the money to come.”

Harden is at that point in his career — one that has three scoring titles, an MVP and six All-NBA First Teams honors — all he needs is the championship ring. And Brooklyn is arguably the top contender to make that happen.

They couldn’t stay healthy last season, but even though it was a handful of games together, Harden, Durant and Kyrie Irving were electric on the hardwood together. And their supporting cast, which is only better now with Paul Millsap, Patty Mills and a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge, makes them the favorite to come out of the East.

So, while it will be a storyline for Harden — and Irving for that matter — until he signs, he’s entirely focused on winning a ring in Brooklyn.

“It’s very important,” Harden said about a championship. “As a competitor, I feel like it’s one of the best players in this league [that gets one]. That’s what you train in the summer for and the tough times and grind, the difficult days for. I’m just trying to set myself up for it.”

Source: Yahoo Sports

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