Harden said not to read anything negative into his decision to pass on an extension before the deadline.
“Honestly, I’m just focused on getting healthy, getting my body right and then preparing for a great season,” Harden said after recording 20 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in the Nets’ 127-104 season-opening loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. “The contract, the money is going to be there.
“I don’t plan 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’s decision to pass on an extension now allows the Nets’ All-Star to opt in to his $47.4 million contract for 2022-23 and sign a four-year, $223 million extension at the start of free agency next summer, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Harden would earn $61.8 million in the last year of the extension and become the first player to surpass $60 million in one year.
Harden overwhelmingly indicated that he is happy with the Nets when asked if he likes being with Brooklyn.
“Last year was a whirlwind for me individually as far as my health and playing,” Harden said. “So this year I feel like I need to come back and show I am one of those [elite] guys. So I’ve got a lot to prove myself, and that’s all I’m worried about and focused upon.
“I love it here, myself and [Brooklyn owners] Joe [Tsai] and Clara [Wu Tsai] and [GM] Sean [Marks] and the front office and [alternate governor Oliver Weisberg] and [head coach] Steve [Nash]. From top to bottom the communication has been unbelievable, it’s been amazing. I feel at home. It’s nothing to worry about. For me individually I just want to focus on this year and that’s it.”
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