Devin Harris was an All-Star for the New Jersey Nets in 2009. He helped Denver’s young nucleus learn how to win late last season. He’s been a fan favorite everywhere he’s played, especially in Utah when he was traded there and allowed the Jazz to wipe their memory banks of Deron Williams after his relationship with the franchise had gone sour.
And yet, Devin Harris will always be identified as a Maverick.
That is an odd punch line considering that the Mavericks did not originally draft Harris (Washington did, then traded him to the Mavericks for Antawn Jamison) and that they have traded the 6-foot-3 guard. Twice.
And yet, he’s found his way back to the organization each time and he continues to be a productive player at age 36.
Harris has put together a rock-solid career. He’s been a prime contributor on teams that went deep into the playoffs and some that didn’t even sniff the postseason.
Through it all, he’s been as professional as they come.
When Harris plays his 15th game in the 2019-20 season, be it in Dallas or somewhere else, he’ll reach 1,000 games played for his career. Currently, 608 of them have been for the Mavericks.
This season, he averaged 6.3 points in 15.8 minutes per game. Modest numbers and well below his career norms. But Harris had a key role on a team that needed veteran leadership for youngsters like Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson and, later in the season, Kristaps Porzingis.
Harris anchored the second unit and did it with his usual professional demeanor. And through it all, coach Rick Carlisle made no mistake about the importance Harris served to the Mavericks — past and present.
“Devin Harris is the epitome of a loyal soldier to a franchise,” Carlisle said late in the season. “The way he navigated his way back to this franchise, three times, is really amazing. He sacrificed, certainly, some amount of money over a period of years to do it. We’ve been very lucky to have him here. He’s a terrific player. He’s done a great job staying healthy. And if continues to feel good, he can continue to play, if that’s what he wants to do.”
There’s no way to know what the future holds for Harris. His family has settled in Dallas and he loves it here. But as he said, he’s been traded before. And now, in free agency, he has the skill set that could fit well as the backup guard for a team chasing a championship.
Harris has spent the last several seasons in a reserve role, mostly. It’s largely because he had a left foot that needed to be sliced open numerous times to correct an ill-growing bone that caused serious inflammation near his toes.
That injury cut short his time as a full-time starter.
But it opened up a way to extend his career as a valuable sixth man. And he knows putting in a 15- to 20-minute workload per game also might make his services suitable to a team that has an established starter at point guard but needs a capable backup.
Harris ranks seventh in franchise history in games played (608), eighth in steals (559) and ninth in 3-pointers attempted (1,299). Clearly, his spot in Mavericks history is secure no matter what.
“Obviously, winning at this point in my career always piques my interest,” Harris said. “Obviously, Dallas is always where my heart is. (But) it’s been a couple years since I’ve been to the playoffs. I’d like to see the turnaround here, when it finally does happen, but I’ll talk it over with the family.”
That’s what the offseason is for.
But no matter where Harris meanders to for his 16th NBA season, you probably shouldn’t bet against him somehow finding his way back to the Mavericks again.
He always does.