1. Re-Negotiate Their Stars’ Contracts
Well, here we are. Ring-less. With Kyrie and KD comforting Harden the best they can – “Don’t cry, James. We’ll get one next year.” – it should come as no surprise that Brooklyn needs to lock down their superstars for as long as they can.
Despite only playing 12 games together, the Brooklyn trumping trio will be key to next season’s title run for reasons that don’t require much explanation. One statistic is plenty: according to StatMuse, the Nets’ Big Three averaged a combined 85.2 points this playoffs. To put that in perspective, the 1999 Knicks (who went to the Finals) averaged 85.0 as a team.
But why should Brooklyn only make moves for next year? Why not secure their stars for the long haul?
At this point, if the Nets don’t extend their Big Three this summer, let’s just say nothing is for certain. Durant, Harden and Irving all have player options on their 2022-23 contracts, and because the three combined are the most short-fused and combustible sort of players the league has ever seen, there’s still a sliver of doubt about their futures. Sean Marks, stamp that out right now.
Kevin Durant has two years left on his contract and will become eligible this offseason to sign a four-year, $192.5 million extension that would run through the 2025-26 season. You can just imagine a 37-year-old KD breaking ankles on the court, especially after what we saw this postseason as he became further removed from his surgery and setbacks.
Kyrie Irving also has two years left on his contract and will become eligible to sign a four-year, $181.6 million extension that would run through 2025-26. James Harden also becomes extension-eligible and has two years left on his deal including a $47.3 million player option for 2022-23. He can exercise that player option and then sign the three-year, $161.1 million maximum extension he is eligible for.
As of now, per Spotrac, the Nets are $56 million over the cap and $38 million over the luxury tax threshold. Both Irving and Harden could earn more money if they declined their 2022-23 player option and entered free agency, as reported by ESPN. Given Harden’s desperate (oh so desperate) desire to win a title and Irving’s stated commitment to staying in Brooklyn, though, they might be willing to sacrifice a cut of their potential earnings.
Remember that the Nets sent Houston SIX first-round picks for Harden. It’s clear that Brooklyn plans to keep him for a while, but now it’s time for the Nets to put pen to paper and seal the deal.
Locking up the Big Three to their respective maximum amounts would align them all through the 2025-26 season. It will cost a fortune. It will induce the largest luxury tax payment in NBA history. And it will require fine-tune adjustments across salaries and probably some on-the-floor-down-on-two-knees begging on Marks’ part to make his players happy.
But for these three? Totally worth it.