When Nets general manager Sean Marks spoke to the media Friday morning, he said that re-signing free-agent perimeter shooter Joe Harris was "definitely a priority." The negotiating period opened at 6 p.m. ET Friday, and four hours later, Harris was back in the fold.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report that Harris agreed to a four-year deal worth $75 million, and Newsday confirmed that with an NBA source. The Nets can’t announce the deal until signings become official on Sunday.
When Marks spoke about Harris earlier Friday, he said, "We would hope that we can continue to build this with Joe. Joe is an intricate piece to the program here. It would certainly be great to have him continue this ride with us."
Retaining Harris, who is a career 42.6% three-point shooter and averaged a career-high 14.5 points with the Nets last season, was critical for a team with designs on competing for a championship with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy as they enter training camp in December. Harris also is great at driving to the basket, as his career 59.6% effective shooting average indicates.
According to ESPN NBA analyst Bobby Marks, the Harris signing will push the Nets’ luxury tax bill to $47.5 million.
The Nets also have added a career 40.2% three-point shooter in Landry Shamet, who was obtained in a trade on Wednesday during the NBA Draft. So one or the other of Harris and Shamet will be on the floor with Durant and Irving, who will command tremendous defensive attention and create openings for others.
The Harris signing was the first big news of the free-agency period for the Nets, but Marks also addressed reports that three-time NBA scoring champion James Harden is pushing the Rockets to trade him to the Nets. Marks is not permitted to discuss players from other teams by name, but when asked on Friday about the possibility of such a megadeal, he made it clear everything is on the table.
"It’s very difficult to discuss hypotheticals," he said. "We don’t know what’s out there; we don’t know when it’s going to come to fruition. All you can do is prepare yourself to put the best roster you possibly can forward. We like the roster we have right now.
"I can’t really ask how that’s going to play out. We just have to be ready and flexible for whatever happens . . . whether that involves going after a bigger piece or whether that involves playing around the edges."
Any deal for Harden likely would involve shipping out some young core players such as Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince. Marks said he has addressed trade rumors with current Nets.
"I think it needs to be discussed," he said. "I’ve talked to several of our players about this and just said, ‘Look, forget the rumors. Let’s go out and concentrate on what we have in hand.’ I like this group we have, [but] you have to have those honest conversations with players and not let the rumors simmer in the background."
Any deal for Harden also would include several draft picks, and for the first time since he took over in 2016, Marks has all of his own first-round picks starting in 2021. Is he willing to mortgage the future to put together a high-powered team that might have a two-year window to win a title before Durant and Irving can exercise their options?
"That’s the dilemma, right?" Marks said. "There is a fine line where it becomes, ‘This is what we’re willing to do.’ Not only in a trade for a star player, but every trade, for that matter. I think we want to build something sustainable here. This is not something that’s a fleeting moment, like go all-in and a year or two years from now, we’re sitting here and now we’ve got to completely rebuild everything and we don’t have the assets to rebuild with.
"I wish I could give you more of a definitive answer, but until we know what deals are being offered or we’re offering, it would be difficult to say. But mortgaging your future? No, we wouldn’t want to do that."