Nets GM Optimistic Kyrie Irving, James Harden Sign New Contracts Before Season

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 11, 2021

BOSTON, MA - MAY 30: James Harden #13 hi-fives Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets during the game against the Boston Celtics during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 30, 2021 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks likes his chances of signing both Kyrie Irving and James Harden to contract extensions soon.

Marks said Wednesday he is "optimistic" he will be able to get deals done with Irving and Harden before the start of the 2021-22 season.

That means Marks has about two months to work on new contracts with both players, as the 2021-22 season is scheduled to start in October.

Irving signed a four-year, $136.5 million contract with the Nets in free agency in 2019 after spending two seasons with the Boston Celtics. As of now, Irving could become a free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season since he has a player option for 2022-23.

Harden signed a four-year, $171 million extension with the Houston Rockets in 2017, and the Rockets subsequently traded him to Brooklyn last season.

Like Irving, Harden can become a free agent at the end of the upcoming season because of his player option for 2022-23.

After acquiring Harden and adding him to a core that already included Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets were favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals last season.

Both Irving and Harden missed time during the playoffs, however, and the Nets were knocked off by the eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.

While it was a disappointing end to the season for Brooklyn, there is plenty of optimism that the Nets can go the distance in 2021-22 provided their Big Three stay healthy.

Durant has shown time and time again that he is one of the best players in the world, and he proved it again at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo by leading Team USA to the gold medal.

Injuries have limited Irving to just 74 games in his two seasons with the Nets, but he has been productive when healthy and was named an All-Star for the seventh time last season thanks to averages of 26.9 points, 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals.

Harden was the unquestioned go-to guy during his nine seasons with the Rockets, leading the NBA in scoring three times and winning an MVP award.

Impressively, he adapted once heading to the Nets and became more of a playmaker. His 24.6 points per game were down nearly 10 points from the previous season, but his 10.8 assists and 7.9 rebounds per contest were the second-highest rates of his career.

Durant, Irving and Harden barely played together as a trio last season because of injuries, but when they did, the Nets often looked like an unstoppable force.

Brooklyn will have a chance to vie for a championship in 2021-22 no matter what happens on the contract front, but if the Nets want their championship window to be open for multiple years, getting new deals done with Irving and Harden is vital.