So far, new Nets coach Steve Nash has been coy about his coaching staff and playing style. But both he and Joe Harris seem clear on one thing: They each want to see the free agent back in Brooklyn.
Harris — an unrestricted free agent — said during the season he hoped to stay in Brooklyn, and GM Sean Marks called retaining him a “top priority.” Harris confirmed meeting with both Nash and Marks, and the newly hired coach expressed a desire to keep the sharpshooter in a Net uniform.
“I met with him the other day, grabbed a coffee with him and Sean. First time I met Steve,” Harris told “The JWilly Show” podcast. “His reputation obviously across the league is incredible. Everybody that’s ever played with him, everybody that’s ever been around him, nothing but good things, and that’s exactly how he was in person, too.
“You add that into the mix too, you have a coach like Steve Nash — and I’m excited to see the staff he assembles — but factor that with what Brooklyn’s already got going on and it obviously makes it a very appealing place.
“He obviously knows I’m a free agent. I’m one of the few guys on the team in this situation right now where I am a free agent. And he just talked about how he felt about me as a player and wanted me to come back and be in Brooklyn.”
Nash didn’t address Harris at his introduction, but implied he’d like to re-sign the former 3-point champ.
“I expect the core to be there, I’m planning on this core being there, but in the NBA you have to be adaptable and know that anything can happen,” Nash said. “So I’m planning around this group. … I’m thrilled with this roster.”
So is Harris. He said back in February he wants to come back to play alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and reiterated it on the podcast.
“My ideal scenario is to come back to Brooklyn,” he said. “This is where I was afforded the opportunity. I’ve spent the last four years here. I love living here, I love being here, I love what the Nets are about. The organization as a whole is second to none across the league in terms of our reputation, how they treat the players. It’s a first-class operation.
“And then at the end of the day too, when you look at the roster, we have a unique situation where we really can look at the roster and say we have an opportunity to play for a championship and you can’t say that about a lot of teams. So you combine all that, the ideal situation is for me to stay in Brooklyn.”
That will be easier said than afforded.
The Nets are committed to a dozen players for $132 million, taking into account the salary cap and luxury-tax threshold. That includes Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot’s non-guaranteed $1.8 million deal, but not the $5 million team option on Garrett Temple, who has also expressed a desire to return. Or Harris.
With Harris having just finished a two-year, $16 million deal, the expectation around the league is he will get a raise. Former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks — now with ESPN — estimated that with a Harris starting salary of $12.2 million, along with the current roster and keeping the 19th pick, the franchise would pay a $50 million tax.
Nets owner Joe Tsai has said he will pay the tax if needed, and his actions bear that out after forking over $500 million in player contracts, social justice initiatives and community assistance. Still, that would be among the five highest tax payments in league history.
“You never know how things shake out, the nature of the NBA sometimes it’s a tough one in terms of keeping everyone around,” Harris said. “But if the roster were to stay as it is right now, there’s a lot of talent and a lot of depth.”