Dallas Mavericks: Shaun Livingston

Devin Harris gave Mavs a great deal

July, 5, 2014
Jul 5
2:11
PM CT
Devin HarrisChris Covatta/Getty ImagesDevin Harris could play an even more significant role for the Mavericks next season.
The inflation in the market for backup point guards didn’t end up affecting the Mavericks’ negotiations for Devin Harris much after all.

A source said Harris and the Mavs agreed to a deal similar to the one they originally struck last summer (three years, $9-plus million), only to mutually agree to pull it off the table after the discovery that he needed complicated toe surgery. The details of the deal are still being finalized, but it will be a great bargain for the Mavs in a market in which point guards Shaun Livingston and Darren Collison were given the full mid-level exception, getting three-year, $16 million deals from the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, respectively.

Harris, a key component of the Mavs’ bench in the second half of the season and playoffs, likely could have squeezed more money out of another team. However, he said all along that he wanted to stay in Dallas.

The Mavs were equally determined to keep Harris, making it clear that he was a priority when Mark Cuban met the 10-year veteran point guard in the opening minutes of free agency.

That mutual love resulted in relatively easy negotiations. The Mavs hope the same holds true for sixth man Vince Carter.

Harris could play an even more significant role for the Mavs next season due to Jose Calderon being dealt to the New York Knicks in the Tyson Chandler trade. The tentative plan is for Harris to come off the bench again -- the Mavs love his chemistry with high-leaping reserve center Brandan Wright -- but Harris’ minutes could increase after averaging 20.5 per game last season.

That might have been the case anyway with Harris a full year removed from the surgery that sidelined him for the first half of last season. It’s possible that Harris ends up playing more minutes than Raymond Felton, the Knicks castoff who is penciled in as the Mavs’ starting point guard. (It’s also still possible that Felton could be moved in a salary-dump deal to free up more cap space if the Mavs need it.)

No matter the minutes, as long as Harris can stay healthy, this is a great deal for Dallas.
Mavericks sources remain confident that they’ll figure out a way to keep Devin Harris.

The team's point guard Plan A is just likely to cost the Mavs a little more than they anticipated.

Golden State gave Shaun Livingston a three-year, $16 million deal, using the full midlevel exception. Sacramento will sign Darren Collison to an identical deal. Harris is certainly in their class, so it’s reasonable for him to expect to be paid in the $5 million-per-year range. That’s a nice bump from the deal worth a little more than $3 million per year that Harris originally agreed to with the Mavs last summer, only to settle for the veteran’s minimum after the discovery that he needed complicated toe surgery.

In the likely event the Mavs don’t use all their cap space to land one of the available superstar small forwards, the Mavs are prepared to pay market value to keep Harris, who could start over Raymond Felton next season.

If they manage to get Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James to come to Dallas, the Mavs are hopeful that Harris would take less to stay in Dallas on a championship contender, likely getting the cap room exception of about $2.7 million. If it’s a one-year deal, the Mavs would have Harris’ Early Bird rights next summer, allowing them to exceed the cap by paying him up to 104.5 percent of the average salary in the upcoming season.

The Mavs have also been in contact with the agents of guards Isaiah Thomas, Mo Williams and D.J. Augustin.

The 5-foot-9 Thomas, who is being replaced as the Kings’ starter by Collison despite averaging 20.3 points and 6.3 assists last season, is viewed in Dallas as a Plan B option if they aren’t able to get a deal done with Harris.

Williams and Augustin could be fallback options as well, but they could also fill a need for backcourt perimeter shooting ability, even if Harris returns. Williams, who lives in the Dallas area, was Portland’s sixth man last season and can’t be paid more than $3.18 million next season by the Trail Blazers after they used their midlevel exception on center Chris Kaman.

It’s also possible that the Mavs could be in the market for a pair of point guards if they move Felton in a salary-dump deal.

Free-agency preview: Point guards

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
8:00
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Shaun LivingstonAP Photo/Frank Franklin IIShaun Livingston, left, can ably fill both guard spots; Greivis Vasquez is a proven assists man.

The Dallas Mavericks' plan is to re-sign Devin Harris as Jose Calderon's change-of-pace backup at point guard for 2014-15.

The mutual interest between the Mavericks and Harris is strong, so there is a high probability that he will return. The negotiations have a natural starting point of a three-year deal worth a little more than $9 million. Harris and the Mavs originally agreed to the offer last summer before the discovery that he needed complicated toe surgery, which led to Harris signing a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum salary and missing the first half of the season.

The Mavs want Harris back because he’s one of the league’s better backup point guards, is a high-character fit for their culture, has excellent chemistry with his teammates and has corporate knowledge of coach Rick Carlisle’s schemes. However, if for some reason the Mavs can’t hammer out a deal for Harris, there should be several quality backup point guards available with similar or perhaps even lower price tags.

The Mavs, who are pleased with Calderon as their starter, will not be in the market for Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. They’d love to land Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, a dynamically athletic 24-year-old with star potential, but the Suns are expected to match any offer the restricted free agent receives.

Some point guards who could be fits for the Mavs if Harris heads elsewhere:

Shaun Livingston: The fourth pick in 2004 has seen his career derailed by a devastating knee injury, but he’s worked his way into being a quality role player, averaging 8.3 points and 3.2 assists in 26 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets last season. Like Harris, the 6-foot-7 Livingston, 28, is capable of providing quality minutes at both guard positions.

Steve Blake: The 34-year-old Blake’s intelligence and competitiveness made him a Kobe Bryant favorite during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s declined as an athlete. He’s a decent 3-point shooter and passer, but he’s not nearly the off-the-dribble threat that Harris is. Heck, he might not even be the off-the-dribble threat that Calderon is.

Patty Mills: In his fifth NBA season, Mills emerged as a lethal shooter off the Spurs’ bench, playing an important role in their title season. But unless another team overpays him, why wouldn’t Mills re-sign with San Antonio and try to help them repeat for the first time in franchise history?

[+] EnlargeDJ Augustin
AP Photo/Michael DwyerD.J. Augustin, a former Longhorn, likely earned a big raise with last season's performance; Jerryd Bayless, right, brings athleticism but is lacking defensively and as a playmaker.
Mario Chalmers: His Miami tenure might come to an end after he played so poorly in the Finals that he was benched for Game 5. He’s still a solid point guard with career averages of 8.6 points and 3.8 assists in 27.5 minutes per game. Would he accept a reserve role after recently starting for two title teams?

Mo Williams: Williams has career averages of 13.3 points and 4.9 assists per game and has performed well as a sixth man for teams that have made the Western Conference semifinals -- the Clippers and Trail Blazers -- in two of the past three seasons. The 31-year-old is capable of running an offense and playing off the ball. But he’s looking for a raise after declining an option to make $2.8 million in Portland next season.

Kirk Hinrich: He’s a less-athletic, better-perimeter-shooting version of Harris and a smart veteran capable of playing both guard spots. Hinrich averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 assists per game for the Bulls last season, serving primarily as a starter due to Derrick Rose’s injury. He’s earned a reputation as a good defender, but at 33 with a long injury history, how much tread is left on his tires?

Ramon Sessions: Sessions has put up pretty good numbers (11.7 PPG, 4.7 APG) mostly for bad teams throughout his career, having made the playoffs only once in his seven years. The Mavs had discussions with his agent two summers ago but weren’t willing to make more than a one-year offer.

Greivis Vasquez: The 6-foot-6 Vasquez has played for four teams in four seasons despite leading the league in assists in 2012-13, averaging 13.9 points and 9.0 assists per game for a 27-55 New Orleans team. Vasquez, a restricted free agent, has made it clear that he hopes to return to Toronto.

Jordan Farmar: A reserve on the Lakers’ two most recent title teams, Farmar was out of the NBA for a year before returning to L.A. last season and averaging 10.1 points and 4.9 assists in 41 games. He’s a decent defender and has the quickness to create off the dribble plays.

Jerryd Bayless: The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Bayless is a big point guard with explosive athleticism and can occasionally score in bunches, but he’s bounced around to five teams during his six-year career. He’s not much of a playmaker (2.9 assists per game in his career) and doesn’t defend as well as a guard with his physical gifts should.

Brian Roberts: Roberts, a 28-year-old with only two seasons of NBA experience after playing overseas for several years, averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game as a part-time starter in New Orleans last season. He’s a good spot-up shooter but doesn’t penetrate well and is challenged defensively due to his size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds).

D.J. Augustin: A lottery pick in 2008, the 26-year-old former Texas star rejuvenated his career coming off the Bulls’ bench last season. Averaging 14.9 points and 5.0 assists in 30.4 minutes per game after signing in mid-December, Augustin was one of the league’s best minimum-salary bargains. How big of a raise will he get?

Beno Udrih: The veteran lefty, who turns 32 in July, has come up in trade talks with the Mavs a few times over the years. He averaged 7.9 points in 16.4 minutes per game in the playoffs for the Grizzlies after Nick Calathes’ suspension forced Memphis to give backup minutes to a midseason addition. If the Mavs miss out on other veterans, Udrih could be a fit for the veteran’s minimum.

Free-agent PGs: Search for Plan B starter

June, 24, 2013
6/24/13
10:10
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The first in ESPNDallas.com’s position-by-position series previewing the free agency market that opens July 1.

Barring a one-in-a-million type of miracle, the Mavericks must move on to Plan B.

With Doc Rivers re-locating to Los Angeles, Chris Paul maximizing his money by re-signing with the Clippers is all but a done deal. There’s a steep drop from CP3 to the rest of the point guards available in free agency -- and maybe the Mavs acquire their starter via a trade – but upgrading this position ranks right up there with center among the Mavs’ top priorities.

A look at potential PG fits for the Mavs in free agency:

Jose Calderon: The Mavs were intrigued enough by the 31-year-old Spaniard to engage in trade talks about him with the Raptors before and during last season. Calderon, who has a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 7.2/1.7, would give the Mavs a significant boost of basketball IQ and get Dirk Nowitzki the ball at the right spot and right time on a regular basis. Calderon can also consistently knock down open jumpers, as evidenced by his career percentages that are outstanding by point guard standards (.483 FG, .399 3s).

The concerns with Calderon: He’ll remind Mavs fans of the biggest flaws of the two best point guards who have played with Dirk. Calderon has never been a good creator or defender, and that’s putting it kindly. His hesitation/inability to penetrate is Kidd-like; his 0.9 attempts per game at the rim were the lowest among starting point guards last season, according to hoopdata.com. He’s a Nash-like liability at the defensive end, especially against explosive guards. Those issues aren’t going to improve as Calderon ages.

Nevertheless, Calderon could be the best fit for the Mavs in the market, assuming the price drops significantly from the $11 million he made last season. Estimated cost: three years, $18 million.

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Monta Ellis: He’s the most talented point guard in the market who isn’t a perennial All-Star. The problem: It’s a stretch to call Ellis a point guard. He’s a scorer first and foremost, probably best suited for a Jason Terry-type of role as instant offense off the bench.

The Mavs have major question marks about how Ellis would fit as the starting point guard alongside Nowitzki. Ellis is a premier penetrator in his prime, which makes him intriguing, but he’s never averaged more than six assists per game and is a high-volume, low-efficiency jump shooter. His 3-point percentage last season (.287) was the worst among any player with more than 170 attempts. He shot more long 2s than any point guard other than John Wall but hit only 34 percent of them, per hoopdata.com.

Ellis gets a lot of steals, but he’ll never be confused with a defensive stopper.

He’d give the Mavs the kind of athleticism they haven’t had at point guard since Devin Harris. Of course, you might remember Nowitzki lobbying hard behind the scenes for the Jason Kidd trade because he wanted a more cerebral partner at point guard.

The Mavs will pass if Ellis gets something close to the four-year, $40 million deal he’s rumored to be seeking. If he slips through the cracks like O.J. Mayo last season, the Mavs could be waiting with a short-term offer in the $6 million-per-year range.

Jarrett Jack: He excelled as the Warriors’ sixth man this season, often running the point next to Stephen Curry during crunch time. That’s a role that suits him well.

While he struggles to defend quick foes and isn’t a pass-first guy, there are reasons to be intrigued about the 29-year-old Jack’s potential as the Mavs’ point guard. He’s an outstanding midrange shooter (48 percent last season) and has a knack for knocking down floaters in the lane. Those are the kind of shots that come in bunches when running pick-and-pops with Dirk. And Jack has the type of tough-minded mentality that would mesh well with the Mavs’ vets and coach Rick Carlisle.

A four-year, $24 million deal for Jack would make sense for the Mavs. However, it’s a long shot at best that he’d leave Golden State for that kind of money. With Golden State’s ownership promising to spend to sustain success now that the Bay Area is buzzing about the Dubs, another team would probably have to overpay to get Jack.

Mo Williams: The 30-year-old Williams is really a score-first combo guard, not a pure point. He’s a good catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter (.386 career) who also likes midrange jumpers off the dribble but isn’t much of a threat to drive. He’s an average passer (6.2 assists per game last season) and mediocre defender. And he’s injury prone, missing at least a dozen games in seven of the last eight seasons.

Williams would be a stopgap starter, not a long-term solution. The Mavs probably wouldn’t be willing to pay more than $5 million per year for his services.

Brandon Jennings: The Mavs had mild interest in Jennings before the trade deadline and he’s made it clear that he’d love to play in Dallas. Let’s hold off on the debate about how much the 6-foot-1, 169-pound, lightning-quick, low-percentage-shooting Jennings would benefit from playing with Dirk. Jennings, a restricted free agent, is expected to sign an offer sheet to play one more season with the Bucks before having the freedom to be a free agent with no strings attached. If he’s a Mav this season, it almost certainly means there’s been a trade. (Same goes with Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans, but we’ll classify him as a shooting guard.)

Jeff Teague: There’s a lot to like about a 25-year-old who averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 assists while playing good defense for a playoff team, which is why Atlanta is expected to re-sign the restricted free agent. He’s only an option for the Mavs if the Hawks strike it rich in free agency and are forced to renounce Teague’s rights. You could do a lot worse than signing Teague to a four-year, $30 million deal.

Darren Collison: He clearly considers himself a starting point guard and will search for a team that agrees with him this summer. The Mavs do not. If he slips through the free agency cracks, the Mavs would welcome him back as a backup for the kind of money that reflects that role.

Devin Harris: There’s a lot of love in the Mavs organization for Harris as a person. However, he isn’t perceived to be a starting point guard at this point of his injury-prone career. He averaged 9.9 points and 3.4 assists as a part-time starter for the Hawks last season. The Mavs wouldn’t mind bringing Harris back to Dallas, but it’d have to be as a $3 million-per-year backup.

Nate Robinson: He’s like a turbo edition of J.J. Barea with baggage that has caused Robinson to bounce around to five teams in the last five seasons. He was arguably the best minimum-salary bargain in the league last season, averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 assists off the bench for the Bulls and starring in some playoff wins. How much did Robinson boost his value? The Mavs wouldn’t spend big on him, but if he’s in the $2 million salary range, he’d be a great fit.

Chauncey Billups: His career really took off during his season playing for Rick Carlisle with the Pistons, so there’s a strong tie there. But he’s 36 years old and wasn’t close to being the same player when he came back from a torn Achilles tendon last season. The Mavs might value his veteran savvy enough to offer Billups the bi-annual exception of a little more than $2 million.

Shaun Livingston: The 6-foot-7 former straight-outta-high school high lotto pick whose career was destroyed by a devastating knee injury wouldn’t be a bad, low-dollar backup. He’s not a good shooter, but Livingston is a solid defender, passer and rebounder.

Will Bynum: The 30-year-old, who averaged 9.8 points and 3.6 assists off the Pistons’ bench last season, is a poor man’s Barea. If he’s getting offers for the minimum, the Mavs should be interested.

Mike James: The 38-year-old who ended the season as the Mavs’ starter is an option as a minimum-salary backup.

Daniel Gibson: “Boobie” is a bench shooter who would pique the Mavs’ interest as a minimum guy.

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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