Saturday evening, the Dallas Mavericks announced their latest free agency move. In a deal that many expected to take place, the organization signed forward Marquese Chriss, who was then on his third 10-day COVID-19 hardship contract with the team, and waived center Willie Cauley-Stein.
Chirss is the second player to get a contract with the Mavericks after joining the team as a replacement player. Guard Theo Pinson recently signed a two-way contract. The move marks a small, albeit notable, chapter in Nico Harrison’s tenure as general manager. He’s starting to build the team to his liking less than a year into the job.
“He’s just done a really good job of playing above the rim,” Harrison said of Chriss. “Setting screens, being physical, rolling to the rim, and then rebounding, which every team could use that. Whether he’s playing five minutes or 10 minutes or 15 minutes, he’s done a really good job of fitting in with the team and bringing his best every night.”
Although the Mavericks didn’t publicly disclose the full details of Chriss’ contract, he signed a two-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum. He will earn $2.08 million per year, in accordance with CBA rules. He was earning $111,457 during his 10-day contracts. Chriss is excited about the opportunity to join the Mavericks full time.
“It’s two years,” Chriss said of his contract. “I’m thankful to be solidified on the team for any time span. Two years, I think, is a good amount of time I have to solidify my role here long term.
“I think being here these last 30 days has kind of shown that. I try to do the best that I can to help the team win. And whatever aspect it is, whether I play a lot or I don’t, just try to be a team player and go out there and do what I have to do to contribute.”
Signing Chriss may not be the last move the Mavericks make this season. As the NBA trade deadline approaches–February 10–Dallas could look to make an even bigger splash. But right now, Harrison says there’s nothing concrete in the works.
“I think there’s a lot of conversations going on, which if I go back to my old world that was always the case,” Harrison said. “But a lot of the conversations that happen, most of the stuff is just conversation. That’s it.”
For now, Harrison is most interested in seeing the Mavericks healthy. He’s happy to see both Kristaps Porzingis and head coach Jason Kidd, who he describes as “amazing,” back with the team. Harrison is pleased with what he’s seen so far.
“I think the team has really done well,” he said. “They’ve fought through adversity. We’ve had a lot of people that have been out through COVID, through injury. It’s a football term they use, next man up, and I think we’ve really embodied that.”
Chriss is a perfect example of that mentality. He approached his situation with the Mavericks with energy and vigor. Harrison and the team recognized that and rewarded him with a contract. It may be a small move, but it does provide some insight into what Harrison and Kidd are trying to build in Dallas.
Harrison is coy about any grand schemes he may have up his sleeve, but he’s making moves around the edges. Yet, according to him, the deals he makes down the road can’t compete with finally seeing the roster he’s helping assemble in one piece.
“I think you can always improve,” Harrison said. “But again, I look at our team and we haven’t been whole for a while. … I’m really excited to see how we are now that we’re whole.”