Joe Harris Sticks with Brooklyn Nets in Free Agency

Nets re-sign one of NBA's top shooters as Harris stays home

For all the frenzy of free agency, the months of speculation and the wonder and what-ifs, Joe Harris didn’t engage in much exploration before deciding this weekend that Brooklyn was still the place to be.

“I narrowed in with the Nets,” said Harris in a media session on Tuesday afternoon. “Obviously, with the NBA’s rules, you aren’t necessarily allowed a lot of time to speak with these teams. You’re only allowed to talk, obviously, the day that free agency started at 6 p.m. But I was allowed to have dialogue with the team you’re currently with. So, I obviously talked with (general manger) Sean (Marks), (head coach) Steve (Nash), my teammates a lot in the lead-up, and I didn’t even necessarily give a ton of thought to leaving. You still have to take your self-interest as the No. 1 priority, so, you have to entertain other options, but at the end of the day, my No. 1 priority was also to try and come back to Brooklyn.”

“From the moment he arrived in Brooklyn, Joe has epitomized what it means to be a Net,” said Marks in a team statement that announced Harris’ re-signing on Monday. “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. Off the court, Joe is an outstanding person, and he and his family have become integral parts of our Nets family. 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’ growth has mirrored that of the Nets over the last four seasons, as he’s developed from a player on the fringe of the league into one of the NBA’s top 3-point shooters while also rounding out the rest of his offensive game, proving to be increasingly effective in punishing closeouts with drives to the rim.

He was one of Marks’ earliest Nets acquisitions in 2016, after a season-and-change with the Cavaliers, who drafted him in the second round in 2014. Traded to Orlando, waived, and coming off foot surgery, Harris got the chance to keep his NBA career alive in Brooklyn, and that has stuck with him. He was in a similar situation two years ago when he was coming a bit of a breakthrough year in his second season in Brooklyn, shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range for the first time and showing a newfound efficiency finishing in the paint.

“I was allowed an opportunity here when I really didn’t have a ton elsewhere four years ago,” said Harris. “Or even the second time I went through free agency here – or I guess essentially the first time, where I was having to negotiate a few years ago – and it meant a lot to me to come back to a place where I was familiar with, having coaches, front office, teammates that all believe in you and value you. For me personally, that was one of the biggest things, and again that played a critical role in why I wanted to come back to Brooklyn again.”

Over the two seasons of his previous contract, Harris continued to elevate his game. In shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range over each of the last three seasons — including his league-leading 47.4 percent in 2018-19 — Harris has lifted his career mark to 42.6 percent, 12th in NBA history — a sliver behind his new head coach, Steve Nash — and fifth among active players. His 43.9 percentage over those three seasons is the league’s highest for players with at least 1,000 attempts.

This past season, Harris posted career highs of 14.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 42.4 percent from 3-point range. When the shorthanded Nets squad went to the NBA Campus in Orlando for the restart of the season last summer, Harris averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 rebounds in eight games, shooting 59.8 percent overall and 55.1 percent from 3-point range. He’s started all 145 games he’s played over the last two seasons.

Since the Nets’ 2019-20 season ended in August, Harris said he’s mostly been in Brooklyn, with a brief trip back home to Washington, but he didn’t get out to Los Angeles where several Nets, including Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, have been among the NBA players getting together for pickup games. But Harris said some teammates have been coming through Brooklyn, and he’s looking forward to the full group getting back together for Durant’s first season on the court as a Net.

“I couldn't be more excited to play with these guys,” said Harris. “Kevin looks great in terms of coming back from the injury. I've heard the same with Ky. A lot of these guys that had sort of nagging stuff it seems like the offseason priority to them was to just get healthy and we're fortunate I guess in sort of a sense where they were able to have a longer offseason. Although we weren't able to have them in the bubble, it did allow them time to recover, get healthy and then hopefully that will translate to a great season next year.”

While Harris embraces the continuity and familiarity of his fifth season in Brooklyn, there is change around him. Aside from getting Durant in the mix, the Nets added two new guards last week in Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown. There’s also a new head coach in Nash, plus long-time head coach Mike D’Antoni joining the staff along with more additions.

“I think we have an incredible staff,” said Harris. “Obviously, a few changes, but still a lot of the same guys around too. I think we were really lucky to keep Jacque Vaughn around, he’s been here the last few years, as has Adam Harrington, Jordan Ott, Trevor Hendry. So, you have a lot of familiarity there on the staff, but then all the guys that we’ve brought in, it’s been a seamless transition and it feels like they’ve been here for a lot longer than they have.”

It all adds up to a hugely anticipated Nets season, and keeping Harris in the fold was part of setting that stage.

“Collectively as a group we obviously have big aspirations and goals,” said Harris. “We are obviously not going to look super far ahead. We know it is a long road to where we want to go and it is about sort of taking it one day at a time and trying to get better, build that continuity. Build that chemistry. But at the end of the road, we definitely have championship aspirations and we would be fooling ourselves if we said we didn't.”

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