This time last year, Devin Harris faced an uncertain future with the Mavericks organization, but even after drafting Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks picked up the option on the veteran combo guard’s contract, giving Harris a healthy and full offseason to train and prepare for the year.
As most expected in his 13th year, Harris provided consistent play and veteran leadership off the bench for the Mavericks in 44 games before being traded to Denver. He averaged nearly nine points, two rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes per game. He also canned 35 percent of his threes, which was the third-best percentage of his career. Though he showed glimpses of the speedy guard drafted out of Wisconsin, Harris’ game was much more predicated on his effort and basketball savvy. Harris, with J.J. Barea, created a formidable tandem off the bench and propelled one of the better plus/minus units in the entire NBA.
While Harris’ raw stats weren’t all that impressive, his impact on the floor was. With Harris on the court, the Mavs’ offensive rating was 109.6, the best mark for any Maverick this season. He also had a net rating of 12.6, the highest rating for any Maverick who played a substantial number of minutes this year. Harris was a plus-111 in his time with the Mavericks; the next closest player was Yogi Ferrell at plus-99. At this point in his career, Harris isn’t stuffing the box score, but he consistently made plays to put his team in the best position to succeed.
Harris’ season with Dallas was cut short when the team sent him to Denver in a trade deadline deal, but in the games he played with the Mavericks, he was just as effective as ever. Per 36 minutes, Harris averaged 16.6 points per game, which would have been his highest mark since the 2010-11 season when he was 27 years old. He proved he can still score in a variety of ways, and this season, he was especially effective out of the pick and roll. With the ball in his hands and a big setting a screen, Harris scored .96 points per possession.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Mavericks often asked Harris to guard wings since he frequently played the three with lineups including Barea and Ferrell. He’s clearly not a lockdown defender, but effort and intelligence is half the battle, and Harris’ versatility made Rick Carlisle’s funky lineups highly effective against other bench units around the league.
Devin Harris played the final year of a four-year, $16.5 million contract he signed with the Mavericks in 2014. After finishing the year with the Denver Nuggets, Harris is an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team.
When Harris was traded at the deadline, there was a sense that he’d be back with the Mavericks in the future. Donnie Nelson expressed as much when talking about the consummate professional who has spent nine years of his career in Dallas:
“It’s a really gut-wrenching deal to go through and one that we really wrestled with. He’s everything we want our young guys to be and that’s not lost on us.
”It’s excruciating. Devin’s part of our family, will always be a part of our family. Eventually, he’ll find his way back to Big D to finish things off, in my opinion.”
It’s hard to say if that means Harris will be back with the Mavs next season. The front office has vowed to be active in free agency, and they already need to make decisions on restricted free agents like Yogi Ferrell and Doug McDermott. Then there’s the Seth Curry dilemma. And to be frank, signing a 35-year-old point guard isn’t moving the needle for a rebuilding team. Harris might want to make a run at a playoff appearance after narrowly missing the postseason with the Nuggets, making those questions irrelevant.
However, with roots in Dallas and a front office full of support, don’t be surprised to see Harris back with the Mavericks at some point before he’s done.