James Harden Will Be ‘Patient’ On Contract Extension But Wants To Finish Career With Brooklyn Nets
James Harden will be “patient” in terms of his contract extension, but says he wants to finish his career with the Brooklyn Nets.
Harden, 32, and teammate Kyrie Irving can sign extensions for an additional four years beyond the 2021-22 season, keeping them in Brooklyn through 2025-26. Or they could play out the upcoming season and opt out to become free agents, signing for a lot more a year from now.
“Honestly, I’m just going to take my time,” Harden said Monday at Nets media day.
“I’m focused on trying to bring a championship to the city. But as far as an 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 mind set and knowing long-term that ultimately I want to be in Brooklyn for the rest of my career. So it’s no rush.”
Asked about his options going forward regarding an extension, he added: “It’s not about the money to me. I’m been on enough teams where we fell short, so my mindset and my goal is to make sure that we’re able 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.
“If you win a championship in New York, the money will come.”
Nets GM Sean Marks said last month he was “very confident” he would get Harden, Irving and Kevin Durant extended through the 2025-26 season before the start of camp. Last week he said he had had “positive conversations” with Irving and Harden on the subject. Durant last month signed a four-year, $198-million extension with the Nets.
Irving, who appeared at media day via Zoom presumably because he’s not vaccinated, also said he was taking his time on an extension.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time, and I’m same as James, just being patient and we’re still openly communicating and just wait and see,” Irving said. “We know that the future is on our side, just being able to maximize our potential in these next coming years.”
As for the hamstring injury Harden suffered in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Milwaukee that cut short his playoff run, Harden said, “I’m 100 percent.”
After averaging 24.6 points, 10.8 assists and 7.9 rebounds during a brilliant season, Harden is looking forward to a full training camp after he sat out the beginning of camp in Houston last season and then joined the Nets in January after a blockbuster trade.
“From top to bottom, I feel totally different and I’m excited for this new year and this new journey,” he said.
Harden also likes the revamped roster featuring additions like Patty Mills and James Johnson to go along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Bruce Brown and others. He says he’s solely focused on winning a title.
“I think the entire organization feels that way [that it would be a disappointment not to win the title],” he said. “We’re more than capable and we just gotta take baby steps and get our mind and body right and make sure we’re on the same page.”
While several of Harden’s teammates have won an NBA title, including Irving and Durant, a ring still remains elusive for Harden.
“It’s very important,” he said. “As one of the best players in this league that’s what you train in the summer for. That’s what you go through the grinds and the difficult days for. I fell short a few times but that doesn’t stop me.”
With himself, Irving and Durant all missing time last year due to injuries and Covid issues, Harden said health will be key for the Nets.
“I think that’s any team,” he said. “The team that can be healthy or the healthiest has the best chance.”
Even though Harden and the Nets are the betting favorites to win the title, he said the pressure isn’t on Brooklyn.
“We’re not the target,” he said. “The defending champions are the target. They won last year. We’re trying to catch them.
“The Milwaukee Bucks won the championship last year so they should be the targets and the ones to be dethroned.”