No team has had a better offseason than the Brooklyn Nets. They’ve signed Kevin Durant to a four-year contract extension, signed free agent Patty Mills with the taxpayer midlevel extension, re-signed Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown at significant discounts, added defensive-minded role players James Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry and Jevon Carter and drafted 19-year-olds Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe late in the first round.
And they’re not done. Nets general manager Sean Marks said Wednesday that he’s “very confident” that both James Harden and Kyrie Irving will be “signed, sealed, delivered” before training camp begins. There is “no immediate hurry” to get their contract extensions done immediately, Marks said, but “we’re having those conversations with them now.” (He also called the Durant extension “franchise-changing” and said it was “straightforward” because Durant wanted to get it done as soon as possible for “peace of mind.”)
To sign an extension, Harden would first have to opt in to his $47.4 million player option in 2022-23. He could then sign an extension worth $161.1 million over three years. If Harden does that and Irving signs the four-year, $181.6 million extension for which he is eligible, then the trio will all be under contract until the end of the 2025-26 season.
Harden and Irving both suffered injuries during Brooklyn’s second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. After Irving sprained his ankle, Harden came back and played on what he called a Grade 2 hamstring strain. “From a health standpoint,” Marks said, there is “no reason to be concerned” about either of them.
“I’ve seen both of the guys over the last week,” Marks said. “I’ve seen James working out. I’ve seen some videos of him, and he’s really trending in the right direction and looks great. He has really devoted himself this summer to rehabbing, one, the hamstring, and just getting himself in tip-top basketball shape. So that’s really exciting for us, to see James. And I was with Kyrie yesterday, and Kyrie [was in] very positive spirits. You know, it was a bad ankle sprain, there’s no question there, so that set him back and he’s recovering but he’s progressing well and he’s back in the gym I have no doubt, by the time training camp rolls around and even prior to that, that guys will have been together and been live on the court together and playing together and working out.”
Marks said that defense was the theme of the Nets’ offseason acquisitions and talked up Mills’ ability to pester ballhandlers on the perimeter. He said that he thinks they’ve addressed most of their needs, but he doesn’t expect they’ll have addressed all of them until after the trade deadline. When asked about rebounding, a clear weakness for Brooklyn last season, he said improvement might come from players who are already on the roster.
Superteams are always in the market for veterans looking to compete for a title and inexpensive role players who might look better playing off stars. There could be more tweaks at the back end of the roster, and the Nets quietly picked up a $11.5 million trade exception in the deal that sent Spencer Dinwiddie to the Washington Wizards. Every single thing that they do, though, is an effort to fortify a team build on a foundation that has no precedent: three of the best perimeter scorers that the league has ever seen, at or near the peak of their powers. If Brooklyn indeed secures all of them for the next five years, it will be monumental.