Dating back to mid-August, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks expressed the view that he was “very confident” in the team reaching contract extensions with Kyrie Irving and James Harden. While Irving’s situation changed drastically since those comments were made, Harden did not reach an extension with the Nets before opening night. Brooklyn still remains in prime position to contend for the NBA title but, after a season-opening loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Harden was prompted on why the two sides did not reach a pact.
"The contract and money is going to be there. I don't plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have. My focus is focusing on the season and winning a championship"
James Harden talks about not getting a contract extension done with the Nets before the season pic.twitter.com/mUWRvyjvgd
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 20, 2021
“Honestly, I’ve just been focused on getting healthy and getting my body ready, and then preparing for a great season,” Harden said. “The contract and money is going to be there. I don’t plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have. My focus honestly is just focusing on the season and winning a championship. The contract and all that stuff will play itself out as it should, but my focus is definitely locked in on the season.”
This is a non-answer in some respects, though it is interesting for Harden to express that the “contract and money is going to be there.” That is probably a reasonable stance given the always rampant market for star players, but Harden is now 32 years old and perhaps could reach the point in the next couple of seasons in which he is not a no-brainer candidate for the super-max.
For now, Harden is locked in for $44.3 million this season with a $47.3 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign. As such, he could reach free agency after this season if he so chooses, but the Nets and their fans must now hope that Harden’s indication that he does not “plan on leaving this organization” will be backed up by his offseason contractual actions.