The long-awaited return of Devin Harris came into fruition for the Mavericks on Saturday night against Portland.
It looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer for it to actually matter.
Harris’ impact on the game was minimal, as he had just six points and two assists in 17 minutes of action. After missing the first half of the season, the slow start was pretty much expected.
Last night’s debut was Harris’ first game in a Mavericks uniform since 2008. He was originally drafted fifth overall by the Mavericks in 2004 as a result of a draft day trade with Washington. After 3 ½ successful seasons with Dallas, he was involved in a trade that sent him to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Jason Kidd.
He spent five years away from the team, during which he had stints with New Jersey, Utah, and Atlanta. His best year as a pro came in 2009 when he made the All Star team as a member of Nets.
After being away from the Mavericks since 2008, Harris entered the summer of 2013 as a free agent. Failing to land Dwight Howard in the off-season, Dallas scrambled to find pieces to fill their roster. They targeted Harris, and originally agreed with him on a three year deal worth $9 million.
But after a pre-signing physical revealed that he had a dislocated toe that required surgery, the contract was essentially null and void. A brief stall in negotiations followed, but the Mavericks and Harris soon reached a new deal for the veteran’s minimum, a one year contract worth $1.3 million.
A toe surgery and six months of rehabbing later, Harris is ready to be a regular contributor for the Mavericks once again. And they need him. Desperately.
No offense to guys like Gal Mekel and Ricky Ledo (who I actually think will be pretty good players in a few years), but the Mavericks’ backup point guard situation this year has been dreadful. Although Shane Larkin has been coming on strong lately, adding Harris to the mix will give the Mavs some much-needed depth at the position.
Of course, as we saw on Saturday, it will take some time for Harris to get back into game shape. It will most definitely take some patience. It’s also worth pointing out that at 31 years old, and after ten seasons in the league, we’re not exactly sure what form he’ll be able to return to following the surgery.
What we do know is that a full recovery would be huge for the Mavericks.
Don’t get me wrong, Harris’ return does not put Dallas on the same level as San Antonio or Portland. But with the depth that he provides to the roster, a return to prior form would certainly improve the Mavs’ chances of making the playoffs.
The question is, can Harris return to his prior form? Only time will tell.