The Brooklyn Nets achieved something most teams can only dream of over the past two years. They acquired three stars in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Now, historically speaking, they might have an even more difficult task ahead of them: keeping those stars. The Nets are the third team that Durant, Harden and Irving have played for, and stars tend to get antsy pretty quickly if their situation isn’t ideal.
Durant, Irving and Harden all have player options for the 2022-23 season, meaning all three can become free agents next offseason. Fortunately for the Nets, all three are eligible for contract extensions this offseason. Durant can get almost $198 million over four years. Harden can add three years for over $161 million, and Irving can tack four years and nearly $182 million onto his deal if he wants to. Such deals would carry a fair bit of risk. Harden will turn 32 this offseason, and Durant will turn 33. Irving is younger at 29 but he has an extensive history of injuries. Any extension would tie those players to Brooklyn through their mid-30s.
But that hasn’t deterred the Nets. General manager Sean Marks has made it clear that he wants to keep this team together.
“It’s probably too early to begin discussing what their futures are, [but] obviously we’re committed to them. They play a big role in how we’re going to continue to build this, how we’re going to drive our culture and the identity of our team,” Marks said, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “What you see out there is — when they’re healthy — that’s a very, very elite unit.”
So how do the players feel about staying in Brooklyn? Kevin Durant wouldn’t commit to extending this offseason, but he indicated that he is happy with the Nets and that he and his teammates will each make the right individual decisions for themselves this summer.
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“[You] like being in that environment, first of all. You enjoy playing the game, that’s the most important thing. I think we all three enjoy playing with each other,” Durant said when asked by The Post after Team USA practice on Tuesday morning. “But that’s a personal thing, and guys are different. I’m sure when the time is right I’m sure we’ll all make the right decision for ourselves.”
Stars often prioritize flexibility. Durant himself signed a series of one-year deals with the Golden State Warriors before getting to Brooklyn. But he has crafted an ideal situation for himself with the Nets. He has two superstar teammates that he knows and likes. They hired a coach with whom he had a prior relationship. He gets to live in New York, one of the NBA’s most glamorous markets. Never say never in the modern NBA, but it seems likely that Durant, Harden and Irving spend the rest of their primes in Brooklyn competing for championships.