James Harden said he is "not planning on leaving" the Brooklyn Nets, despite the contract deadline passing without a new deal.
Harden and the championship-chasing Nets did not reach an agreement over a contract extension prior to Monday's deadline in the NBA.
The former MVP – entering the third season of a four-year, $171.1million deal signed with the Houston Rockets before his blockbuster trade to the Nets last season – is now set to enter unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
But the 32-year-old superstar dismissed the possibility of leaving Brooklyn after the Nets lost 127-104 to reigning NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks in Tuesday's season opener.
Final from Milwaukee pic.twitter.com/ES1S7sHTM4— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 20, 2021
"The contract, the money is going to be there. I'm not planning on leaving this organisation and the situation that we have," Harden said, having scored 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in Milwaukee.
"So my focus, honestly, is just focus on the season and then winning the championship. The contract and all that stuff will work itself out, but my focus is going to be locked on this season."
Harden added: "Last year was a whirlwind for me individually, as far as my health and playing. So this year I feel like I need to come back and show I am one of those ones. So I've got a lot to prove myself and that's all I'm worried about and focused on.
"I love it here. Myself and [Nets owner Joe Tsai, Clara Wu-Tsai, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash].
"From top to bottom the communication has been unbelievable, it's been amazing. I feel at home. It's nothing to worry about. For me individually I just want to focus on this year and that's it."