The Brooklyn Nets fell to the Milwaukee Bucks on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season, but superstar duo Kevin Durant and James Harden delivered to the tune of a combined 52 points, 19 rebounds and 12 assists in the 127-104 loss. The Nets are banking on the talent of Durant, Harden and, if he ever rejoins the team, Kyrie Irving to guide this team to a championship this season.
But regardless of what happens this season, Brooklyn hopes that it can keep Harden on their roster past this year. It wasn't too long ago, early August to be exact, that Nets general manager Sean Marks said he was confident that extensions for Irving and Harden would be "signed, sealed and delivered" before training camp started. Well, that didn't happen, as the deadline passed without Irving or Harden signing lucrative extensions.
For Harden, he has a player option that he can decline this summer, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. While many may look at that and think Harden's time in Brooklyn could come to an end depending on how this season plays out, the former league MVP said after the team's loss Tuesday night that he isn't planning on going anywhere.
"Honestly I've just been focusing on getting healthy, getting my body right and preparing for the season," Harden said. "The contract, the money it's gonna be there. I don't plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have. So my focus is honestly just focusing on the season, and winning a championship. The contract and all that stuff will play itself out as it should. My focus is definitely locked in on the season."
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Well, that should be reassuring for the Nets, even if it makes you wonder why he declined the Nets three-year, $161 million contract they offered prior to the deadline. But whether he signed it prior to this season or at the end of the 2021-22 season, as long as Brooklyn retains his services it really doesn't matter. But by opting to wait until the 2022 offseason, Harden is eligible for a four-year, $227 million extension, which would make him the first $60 million man in NBA history. So when you put it like that, then I guess it's not that difficult to see why he's waiting to sign.