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NBA Free Agency 2018: Once more with feeling, the Devin Harris story

Look, I don’t know if anything is ever going to happen with us again, ever. But I don’t want to know that it never could.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Much like Ross and Rachel, the relationship between the Dallas Mavericks and Devin Harris is as on-again, off-again as it gets. In February, Dallas surprised many when it traded Harris to the Denver Nuggets as part of a three team deal. The veteran guard was in the middle of the fifth season of his second stint with the franchise, with some speculating that he would end his career in Dallas. For now, the two sides are on a break. However, it seems inevitable that they’ll get back together.

The Basics

Harris is like a security blanket for the Mavericks. Last season off the bench, he appeared in 44 games and averaged 8.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. He also shot 41.5 percent from the floor and 35.2 percent from downtown. While those numbers aren’t going to net the 14-year veteran any All-Star nominations, they were good enough to earn him a permanent spot in Rick Carlisle’s rotation before he was shipped away.

Strengths

Perhaps what makes Harris a natural in the Mavericks’ system is his familiarity with it. Sure, he can score and create for himself still but his chemistry with the second unit is what made him invaluable. This is especially true when it comes to J.J. Barea. Together, they ran a nifty transition play nearly once a game. With Barea bringing the ball up court, Harris would leak out, get behind the defense, and cut to the rim. Barea would hit him with the pass and just like that, the Mavs put two points on the board. In a 24-win season, it was a regular bright spot.

Weakness

Harris is 34 and has a history of injury. Even though the Mavs have one of the best training staffs in the NBA, there’s only so much they can do. Harris has proven that he’s more than susceptible to recurring injuries. He’s battled through multiple toe and foot ailments since returning to Dallas. The most games he played in a season was 76 in 2014-15. He hasn’t appeared in more than 65 since, last season notwithstanding due to the trade.

Fit with the Mavericks

It’s clear that Harris is a natural fit with Dallas. The major concern is whether the team can afford to have him on the roster again. Not only is he prone to sustained injury, the Mavericks may have drafted his replacement in Jalen Brunson. The team also just extended a qualifying offer to Yogi Ferrell making him a restricted free agent and signaling the Mavs’ intent to retain him. Dallas’ bench is getting pretty crowded and free agency hasn’t begun yet.

Even though they may be on a break, the Mavs and Harris are clearly meant to be together. Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson even mentioned Harris on draft night. It was like Ross saying “Rachel” instead of “Emily” at the altar, just with less drama. Whether he fits their immediate needs or their rebuilding timeline, Harris will always be linked to the Mavericks somehow. If they do, in fact, get back together, you can rest assured that everyone watching will cheer.