Nets bring back free agent Joe Harris
Sign veteran sharpshooter to four-year, $75 million deal
The Brooklyn Nets officially got back to dealing with their top offseason priority Monday.
No, not Houston Rockets superstar James Harden, but rather one of their own.
Veteran guard Joe Harris, who has developed into one of the most lethal 3-point shooters in the NBA during his tenure in Brooklyn, agreed to a reported four-year, $75 million deal to remain with the Nets entering the most-anticipated season in franchise history.
“What’s up Nets fans,” Harris said on a video message via the team’s website after ending his ever-so-brief stint as an unrestricted free agent. “Just wanted to shoot you a quick message, see how grateful I am to be back with an unbelievable organization.
“This place gave me an opportunity four years ago,” Harris added. “I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Playing for a great coach, great front office, great ownership, great teammates and the best fans in the league. Can’t wait to get going!”
And neither can the Nets after spending the better part of the past two weeks trying to dodge questions about the potential acquisition of Harden, a former NBA Most Valuable Player who has made it clear that he wants to be a part of the team general manager Sean Marks has built here in Brooklyn.
Marks, who spent most of the previous year insisting that bringing Harris back was the Nets’ “top priority” this offseason, can still swing a deal for Harden if the Rockets bring down their long list of demands.
But Marks won’t be rushed into a move without having made sure that Brooklyn has the necessary pieces around superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to compete for an NBA title beginning next month whether Harden eventually finds his way here or not.
“I couldn’t tell you if we are done [dealing] yet or not but I don’t see us changing five or six guys on the roster,” Marks said over the weekend, just before living up to his pledge to keep Harris in Downtown Brooklyn.
“That is the dilemma, right?” Marks added. “If you put it like mortgage the future, I would probably say no. There comes a fine line where you say this is what we are going to do, not only in a trade for a star player but any trade for that matter.”
There was never any doubt about Harris in Marks’ mind.
Though terms of the deal were not officially released by the organization, Harris is now one of the richest Nets in history after averaging about $6 million per year during his previous two seasons here.
He is also coming off his best year, having posted career bests of 14.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor, including 42.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend 3-Point champion originally signed with Brooklyn in 2016 out of the University of Virginia and re-inked with the team on a two-year pact in 2018.
Now, he’s in position to play among two of the league’s biggest difference-makers and chase the Nets’ first-ever NBA title as the longest-tenured member of the franchise.
“From the moment he arrived in Brooklyn, Joe has epitomized what it means to be a Net,” said Marks.
“On the court, Joe has improved every season, and he’s worked diligently over the past four years to become a core member of our team. He is an excellent teammate, and his approach to the game, along with his character, have had a positive impact on all facets of the organization.”
Marks isn’t lying.
Since arriving here after a two-year stint in Cleveland, Harris has seen his scoring average go up more than six points per contest while consistently drilling better than 40 percent of his 3-pointers, including a league-best 47 percent during the 2018-19 campaign.
Having a dead-eye shooter to spot up around Durant and Irving is something Marks could not do without now that the Nets are being tabbed as favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference this year.
But he wanted Harris back here for more than his shooting touch.
“Off the court, Joe is an outstanding person, and he and his family have become integral parts of our Nets family,” Marks noted.
“While we celebrate all that Joe has accomplished in his career up until this point, we’re also eagerly looking ahead to the next chapter of his career in Brooklyn.”
Harris and Marks are also hoping that next chapter includes a championship parade down Flatbush Avenue.
Nothing But Net: Marks wasn’t done in free agency after signing Harris on Monday. He also added veteran power forward Jeff Green over the weekend to bolster Brooklyn’s interior defense and give Durant someone he is familiar with backing him up. Green and Durant were teammates in Oklahoma City during the start of their respective careers. Green, who signed a team-friendly one-year deal, played in Houston last season under Nets assistant head coach Mike D’Antoni.
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