Could Devin Harris land back in Dallas?

January, 10, 2011
1/10/11
1:02
AM CT
If Devin Harris winds up in Denver as part of New Jersey’s long-running attempts to complete a blockbuster deal for Carmelo Anthony, don’t completely dismiss the idea that Harris could land back in Dallas with the team that drafted him in 2003.

PODCAST
ESPN NBA writer Marc Stein joins Ben and Skin to give us the latest on the Carmelo Anthiny trade front and what the Mavs would have to do to bring back Devin Harris. Does he even fit in with this team?

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Don’t dismiss it because the Mavericks themselves haven’t ruled it out.

Harris is by no means seen as an ideal trade target by Mavs officials, since they were the ones who initiated the deal with New Jersey in February 2008 for Jason Kidd and given the fact that Dallas needs wing scoring and long-ball threats in the wake of Caron Butler’s season-ending knee injury far more than they need another point guard.

However ...

Sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking confirmed to ESPNDallas.com that the prospect of making a trade pitch to bring back Harris has been discussed internally and will inevitably be broached with the Nuggets if the 2009 All-Star ends up in Denver.

Reason being: Dallas is well aware that the Nuggets have little need for Harris thanks to the presence of the promising Ty Lawson and are looking to reduce their luxury-tax bill. Also: Harris can create his own shot and thus could provide one key offensive element Dallas has lacked since he left ... although there would be obvious questions about how well he could function alongside Kidd.

So desperate for Kidd’s playmaking, leadership and veteran know-how, Dallas packaged two future first-round picks and $3 million in cash with Harris -- plus the contracts of Trenton Hassell, DeSegana Diop, Maurice Ager and the rights to Keith Van Horn all for salary-cap purposes -- to get him back. But the way Kidd has evolved, at 37, as a floor leader who also doubles as an effective weak-side shooter that can likewise defend small forwards would suggest that teaming him with Harris is hardly far-fetched. How often do we see Kidd paired with Jason Terry and J.J. Barea in a three-man backcourt?

One team source, to repeat, made it clear that Harris is not their primary target to fill the Butler void. Nor have there been any strong signals to date to suggest that the Mavs have the time or ability to join the New Jersey/Denver/Detroit trade talks as a fourth team that helps facilitate the trade by taking on Harris.

The reality, furthermore, is that there would undoubtedly be considerable competition out there for Harris if the Melo trade finally goes through and the Nuggets make him available, with the Portland Trail Blazers (just to name one team) known to be long-time Harris admirers and knowing how desperate teams generally are for proven point guards.

But Harris is still relatively young (28 in February) and thus ranks as a quality young(ish) player whom the Mavs already know a lot about. Which explains why they’ll privately confess that, on some level, they do like the idea of a reunion.

And the Nuggets, should the Melo deal ultimately go through at last, would be eligible to move Harris again before the Feb. 24 trading deadline as long as they don’t package him with any other Nuggets.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9