NEW YORK (AFP) – The Brooklyn Nets have had ”positive” contract extension talks with James Harden and Kyrie Irving as the team aims to build a championship-winning roster, general manager Sean Marks said Tuesday.
Harden and Irving are reportedly close to agreeing terms on new long-term deals which could see both players remain in Brooklyn for three and four more seasons respectively.
”We’ve had very positive conversations with both of those guys,” Marks said. ”We’re looking forward to sitting down with them over the next two weeks and furthering those discussions.
”Those guys know exactly how we feel and I think they’ve been vocal about wanting to be part of this and building this together. I think we’ve got an opportunity to do something special here for the foreseeable future.”
Irving and Harden form part of Brooklyn’s ”big three” along with Kevin Durant, but injury problems last season meant all three players were rarely fit to play together at the same time.
Both Irving and Harden missed crucial playoff games against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season as the Nets were eliminated in seven games.
Marks said both Harden and Irving were ”ready to go” for the start of the 2021-2022 season, which tips off next month.
”From what we’ve seen they look great,” Marks said. ”Our performance team has been with them, our coaching staff has been with them, spending considerable time with them and can attest that they are in great spirits and are ready to go like the rest of the team.
”It will be a work in progress as to how we proceed with all of our guys, not just James and Kyrie. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and we’re trying to save those guys from themselves half the time. But they feel good, they look great, so that’s a positive.”
Marks said the Nets meanwhile would start the season with ”realistic” championship aspirations.
”Our goal is to be the last team standing,” he said. ”There’s probably six, eight or 10 teams that have the same goal and a realistic one.
”For us it’s about owning that, and not shying away from that. We want to do everything we possibly can to try and accomplish that.”
The Nets have bolstered their roster with the addition of veteran guard Patty Mills, as well as James Johnson and Paul Millsap.
”We added 3 veterans with high IQ and high character and that’s always a really positive thing for a coaching staff,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. ”We’re out to win a championship, we own that.”