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Nets general manager Sean Marks had called re-signing Joe Harris offseason priority No. 1. Mission accomplished.
Harris agreed to a four-year, $75 million contract to stay in Brooklyn on Friday, the very first night of free agency. The deal was first reported by ESPN, confirmed by The Post and celebrated by Nets owner Joe Tsai in a humorous tweet that included former presidential candidate — and Nets fan — Andrew Yang.
The contract will be costly for Tsai, but Harris always wanted to stay in Brooklyn. The Nets wanted him back, from Tsai to new coach Steve Nash to general manager Sean Marks.
“We hope that we can continue to build with Joe,” Marks had said Friday morning. “Joe is an intricate piece to the program here, not only what he does and what everybody sees on the court, but it’s off the court as well. He’s seen this program develop and developed alongside this program. It would certainly be great to have him continue this ride with us.”
In truth, the move had been fully expected for weeks.
An unrestricted free agent, Harris had steadfastly expressed a desire to stay in Brooklyn, where he had developed from a waiver-wire pickup to an NBA 3-point shooting champion. The idea of contending for a championship this season with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving returning from injury made him want to come back even more.
“Definitely. Why wouldn’t you?” Harris had said during the season. “Those are guys I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year. They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and playing. I don’t think there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”
Within hours — with free agency tipping off a 6 p.m. — the Nets had made that a reality.
Harris garnered significant interest around the league as befitting a former 3-point shooting champ. The Post had reported earlier in the offseason that Atlanta would be one of the prime competitors for Harris, but the Hawks gave Danilo Gallinari a three-year, $61.5 million deal.
Former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks — now ESPN’s cap guru — had opined that Harris might fetch a deal worth $18 million annually. It’s uncertain exactly how Harris’ deal is structured, but if he starts off at $16.7 million based on 8 percent increases in salary, the Nets’ payroll would stand at $153.4 million.
The Nets still have the taxpayer mid-level exception worth $5.7 million with which to try to lure Serge Ibaka.
The Nets would be $20.8 million over the luxury tax for a $37.8 million tax bill, according to HoopsHype. But Tsai had said he will pay the tax to fund a contender, and Harris definitely will help make his Nets just that.
When Nash sat down for a meal with Harris, he told the sweet-shooting wing that he had hoped to get him to stay. The reasons were obvious, with Harris’ 3-point percentage (43.9) since 2017-18 the second-best in the league.
“He’s really come into his own. He started off in Cleveland, he didn’t really play much, came to Brooklyn when they were down, had the opportunity to prove himself and gotten better and better,” ex-76ers scout Michael Vandegarde told The Post, calling Harris a perfect complement for Durant and Irving.
“His 3-point shooting, elite size and he knows his game, doesn’t try to do things he can’t do … playing with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will make him even better. Even though his production in points might not be the same, they will free him up for easier shots if he has the opportunity to play off them. He’s had great success and become a great player. … He’s an integral part of what they want to do.”