Nico Harrison might not be a familiar name to a lot of NBA fans.
He’s not a veteran general manager. He’s not a rising talent evaluator who has come up through the ranks and he’s not a former NBA player.
However, what the new Mavericks president of basketball operations has working for him might surprise you.
Harrison, who has been a Nike executive for nearly two decades and has been vice president of North America basketball operations since 2016, is one of the most well-known movers and shakers in the world of NBA player relations.
“We are very excited to bring Nico Harrison to Dallas and have him join our organization,” said Mark Cuban. “Nico brings a wealth of basketball knowledge along with both executive and leadership skills. He has proven to have a unique eye for talent on and off the court. I’m looking forward to watching Nico lead the Mavs to new heights.”
Every NBA star knows who he is and there was a time when Harrison was Kobe Bryant’s personal marketing contact.
For somebody with no previous experience in running a basketball operations, Harrison has worked with and negotiated with a lot of people who have occupied those positions through the years.
Harrison has officially signed a contract to be the Mavericks’ chief of the basketball operations, a job manned for the last 18 years by Donnie Nelson, who parted ways with the Mavericks earlier this month.
The Mavericks also retained Michael Finley, who reportedly was a strong candidate for the GM position. Finley will be vice president of basketball operations.
Harrison and Finley will work closely with new coach Jason Kidd with a couple of pressing matters on the front burner.
“It’s a true honor to be the general manager of the Mavericks; an iconic franchise with a rich history not only within the NBA, but across sports,” said Harrison. “I’m grateful for this rare opportunity and want to thank Mark and the rest of the organization for putting their trust in me to move the team to the next level.”
First on the agenda is making sure point guard Luka Dončić gets locked up long term. Going into his fourth season – and by virtue of making the all-NBA team twice in his first three years – Dončić is eligible for the super-max rookie contract extension, which is worth a shade over $200-million for five seasons.
The Mavericks want to make sure they show their prized superstar that they have the right decision-makers in place going forward. And they also want to make sure Dončić is happy with the direction of the franchise.
Of course, having 200-million reasons to be happy doesn’t hurt.
Dončić is one of the players that Harrison knows well, in part because of the lucrative, five-year shoe contract he signed with Nike two years ago. Having an association with the face of the franchise should give Harrison a head start.
Beyond that, the Mavericks know they still have to continue building the roster around Dončić. They don’t own a pick in the July 29 draft, although that could always change in the next month as teams talk about trades.
After the draft, free agency begins on Aug. 2 with negotiations and on Aug. 6, players can begin signing new contracts.