MILWAUKEE — James Harden didn’t sign an extension with the Nets by Monday’s midnight deadline. But the superstar guard said he’s happy with the team, and has every intention of staying — and winning — in Brooklyn.
“Honestly, I’m just focused on getting healthy, getting my body right and then preparing for a great season,” Harden said Tuesday after the Nets’ 127-104 season-opening loss to the Bucks. “The contract, the money is going to be there. I’m not planning on leaving this organization and the situation that we have.
“So my focus, honestly, is just focus on the season and then winning the championship. The contract and all that stuff will bear itself out, but my focus is going to be locked on this season.”
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. It wasn’t hesitance that kept the former MVP from signing it, rather good business sense, as now he’s in line for a four-year extension worth $227 million next June.
Harden could become the NBA’s first $60 million player and make a record $62.5 million in 2026-27, the most in league history. And he said fans shouldn’t take his not extending as a sign he wants to leave. Harden said nothing could be further from the truth.
“Last year was a whirlwind for me individually as far as my health and playing. So this year I feel like I need to come back and show I am one of those guys,” he said. “So I’ve got a lot to prove myself and that’s all I’m worried about and focused upon.”
The Nets have collectively moved on from Kyrie Irving. And that comes all the way from the top.
On Monday, Joe Tsai — who was at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference on Digital Transformation of Sports — was asked by moderator Liz Habib what a team owner does when faced with a negative situation like Irving’s.
“It’s a great question. If I knew the answer …” Tsai grimaced ruefully. “This season we have unfinished business. We all know how last season ended. We feel like our collective goal is to go for a championship this season.
“I respect individual choice. But when individual action is not consistent with the collective goal, the team has to move on. And that’s what we’ve done. For me, as the owner, it’s the only fair thing to do for our fans, our players, our coaching staff, everyone involved in our organization. It’s the only fair thing to do.”
Harden and Kevin Durant were both voted to the NBA’s Top 75 all-time team, as was Nash.