MILWAUKEE – Brooklyn’s midnight window to lock James Harden in to a contract extension came and went; but it doesn’t mean he’s gone with it. Harden is still happy with the Nets, and is expected to re-sign next summer for an even bigger fortune.
Harden had a three-year, $161 million extension offer on the table from Brooklyn. The deadline to sign it was 11:59 p.m. on Monday. But it likely wasn’t hesitance that kept the former MVP from signing it, but just good business sense.
Now Harden will be in line to get a huge four-year extension worth $227 million next June. It’s one that according to former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks – now ESPN’s cap expert – would make him the NBA’s first $60 million man.
GM Sean Marks declined comment, but from ownership to the front office to his teammates, there is a confidence that Harden has every intention of staying in Brooklyn.
“You know, the reality is I haven’t thought much about it because James loves it here. He’s totally locked-in,” Steve Nash said when asked by The Post about Harden’s extension before Tuesday’s opener in Milwaukee. “So, while we would’ve loved to have signed him before the deadline, it was James’ prerogative when he re-signs.
“And we know that he’s happy here, he’s enjoying it here and we love having him here. So there’s no distraction to the extent that it didn’t really cross my mind one way or another. We love working with him every day. He’s a great teammate and professional and we’re just excited to get this year underway.”
After being the NBA’s second-highest paid player this season at $44.3 million, Harden can hit free agency. He has a player option at $47,366,760 for next season.
Harden can now tack on a four-year extension in June would put him in line to make a record $62.5 million in 2026-27, the most in league history.
When asked if he was confident Harden would sign that extension, Nash simply said the All-Star hasn’t given the slightest sign of wanting to leave.
“You know we never really talked about the extension in our conversations,” Nash said. “I know he’s excited, he loves being here so I’ve never had an inclination that he had different thoughts about that.”
Harden said as much at the Nets’ annual Media Day on Sept. 27, before they even departed for training camp in San Diego.
“I’ve had multiple talks with [Marks] and [team owner Joe Tsai.] I don’t see myself anywhere else, honestly. I want to bring a championship to the city. I’m here,” Harden said, and Tsai is taking him at his word.
While Harden said at the time it’s not about the money, his patience will be rewarded financially. He’ll earn in excess of $270 million over five years, as opposed to $208 million for four. And while there is the risk of injury – he had hamstring woes last season – the risk to Harden’s bottom line is miniscule.
Kevin Durant in 2019 and Kawhi Leonard this past offseason both got max deals despite pre-existing long-term injuries. And the Nets have committed to Harden, a commitment that goes all the way to the top with Tsai.
“I don’t worry about [the extension] because I’m very confident that Brooklyn is the place where he wants to be,” Tsai told The Post recently. “He wants to play with the top players, other guys like KD, Kyrie [Irving,] so I don’t worry about it.
“Whether or not it’s the season now or later, the way I look at it is he’s already said ‘I want to play and finish my career in Brooklyn.’ He’s actually said that. Our job is to make sure that he continues to feel that way. Obviously if we win a championship and also have the chance to win multiple championships down the road, that’s going to be even more convincing, more compelling.
“I agree with him that Brooklyn is the best place to be, so there’s really no argument there. And as for the timing, we just respect his sense of timing and let things play out. Obviously we’re very committed to have him in Brooklyn for the long haul.”