It was reported this week that the Mavericks had agreed to bring back guard Devin Harris on a one year/veteran’s minimum contract for the upcoming season. The 35-year-old has appeared in 540 games over nine seasons and now three separate stints with Dallas ever since the team acquired him via trade after he was the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.
The move isn’t one that is going to affect the Mavericks’ aspirations for the 2018-2019 season in any major way, but it’s a safe move that brings back a veteran presence to provide leadership and mentoring for the younger members of this up-and-coming team.
When the trade deadline rolled around this past season, Dallas had one of the worst records in the league and had several veteran players and expiring contracts it could have looked to move. Why not get something from a contender or a hungry team looking to make a push for the playoffs whenever your negative fate for the season had been virtually after the first several games?
Players like Salah Mejri, J.J. Barea and the curious case of Nerlens Noel all seemed to be fitting candidates for a trade of some sort, but it was Devin Harris who the Mavericks sent in a three-team deal that included Emmanuel Mudiay going to the Knicks, Doug McDermott plus an extra second round draft pick in the 2018 draft via the Portland Trail Blazers coming to Dallas and Harris heading to the Denver Nuggets.
It was a tough deal for some fans, and surely players, to swallow as Harris is one of the longest tenured Mavericks during the Dirk Nowitzki-era, but for the chance to try out a 26-year-old McDermott for a few months, it was a good trade. The tryout went well for McDermott as he was one of the best three point shooters in the league over the season’s final two months. The Mavericks would have liked to have kept him, but the Indiana Pacers quickly took care of business by nabbing McDermott with a three year/$22 million contract that was agreed to within the first hour of free agency.
The part of the deal that was the kicker has turned out to be that Trail Blazers second round pick. It seemed to be nothing more than a throw-in or maybe just an asset that could be used in a trade package later on. Thanks to Portland’s surge down the regular season home stretch, the pick ended up at the 54th overall slot. That armed Dallas with both the 33rd and 54th pick in the second round of the 2018 draft. The Mavericks of course went on to select Jalen Brunson out of Villanova with the 33rd pick but then got creative with the 54th pick.
Dallas initially selected guard Shake Milton out of SMU, but quickly traded that pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the 56th and 60th pick. At that point in the draft, why not have two picks instead of one, right?
With the 56th selection, the Mavericks took Ray Spalding out of Louisville and then Kostas Antetokounmpo out of Dayton with the 60th and final pick of the draft.
Both Spalding and Antetokounmpo have since signed contracts for the Mavericks and have impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League. The excitement around Spalding’s long-term potential was strong enough to make the Mavericks trade Johnathan Motley last week and make there be one less big man in the way of Spalding on the depth chart.
While both figure to be on the court for the Texas Legends more than the Mavs, these could be two very exciting pieces for Dallas in a year or two. Both are tall, long, athletic players that the league is valuing more than ever. For Dallas to be able to nab both of them at the end of the second round was quite the haul. Neither player would be with the Mavs without the Devin Harris trade taking place at the trade deadline.
The Mavericks certainly could have used Doug McDermott’s shooting this upcoming season, but the financial/number of years commitment was somewhat understandingly a bit steep relative to his immediate value for a team looking to vastly improve this season but also keeping their eye on the future.
After the Nuggets lost what amounted to play-in game for the West’s 8th seed on the final night of the regular season, the trade for Harris probably wasn’t all they hoped it would be. Mudiay provided mixed results for the Knicks in 22 games but is still just 22-years-old and on an affordable rookie-scale contract for one more year. For Dallas, they had fun with McDermott while they could, but in the end they turned a seemingly harmless throw-in 2nd round pick into two exciting prospects and eventually reacquired the same player they gave away.
It’s the kind of winning move Donnie Nelson and the front office have to make to get this team back to the level it was for so long back in the 2000’s. These seemingly little things will add up over time.
While Devin Harris isn’t going to lead this team in scoring or even play more than 25 minutes a night, getting him back this summer was a good move for the Mavs. As it turned out, trading him at the deadline was a pretty good move as well.