Tonight the rebuilding and VERY young Utah Jazz visit the American Airlines Center for the second time this year. Back in November the Mavericks took advantage of an extremely depleted Utah team that featured Marvin Williams as the Jazz leading scorer and jumped out to a 24-point halftime lead. Of course it was a five point game late in the 4th quarter, because that is what 2014 Dallas Mavericks basketball is all about.
Utah fell to 1-13 but rookie point guard Trey Burke was dressed for only his second game of the season. However with the talented rookie at full strength, Burke and the Jazz enter tonight’s matchup at 16-32. While that is still bad, they are a lot better than they were, and play like a totally different squad now. Their young core of Burke, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter is as potential-packed as any in the Association, but no doubt there’s a ways to go.
Trey Burke was acquired on draft night from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a brilliant, brilliant trade, sending Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng back to Minnesota. Even with David Kahn fired the Wolves still managed another in an extremely long line of draft night blunders. The Jazz got a fortuitous result from the Golden State Warriors epic 2012 tank job securing the Dubs their first round pick (Harrison Barnes). The Jazz got a pick the following year in a much, much weaker draft but yet turned that pick and theirs into Burke, who is the uncontested franchise point guard in Salt Lake.
The spot had been vacant since 2011 when Deron Williams took his beautiful things and diamond rings and was traded to the Nets for a package headlined by former Maverick Devin Harris.
Devin Harris was no stranger to being traded…in a package deal…for a star point guard…along with draft picks…at the trade deadline. Specific enough for you?
In 2008 Harris was dealt along with two first round draft picks (ended up being Ryan Anderson & Damion James) and an assortment of old geezers for Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. At the time, the New Jersey Nets were rebuilding and the 24-year old Harris was to be a cornerstone. Then they became the Brooklyn Nets and three years later Harris again headlined a blockbuster trade. The Nets shipped Harris, rookie Derrick Favors and two first round picks (ended up being Kanter & Burke) to the Jazz for all-star Deron Williams.
For the second time in three years, Harris fronted the return for an elite player. However, he was at the front more by experience instead of trade value. His season averages were very impressive, 15 points and 7.6 assists per game, but he turned 28 three days after the deal and despite very good numbers the lack of stability was putting a wrench in his NBA career.
The next season he started 63 of 66 games in the lockout-shortened season, his numbers dropping a bit to a tune of 11.3 points and 5 assists a night. The Jazz did however exceed expectations and capture the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
In the off-season the Jazz sent Harris to the Atlanta Hawks for draft bust Marvin Williams, the 2nd overall pick in the 2005 draft. The Jazz picked Deron Williams with the very next pick. It was like the Circle of life a beautiful thing.
Injuries resurfaced for Devin Harris as an Atlanta Hawk and also with poor timing in the final year of his 5-year $43 million dollar contract he received from the Mavericks in 2007. Harris only appeared in 58 games, mostly as a shooting guard alongside the emerging Jeff Teague, free agent acquisition Lou Williams, trade acquisitions Kyle Korver from Chicago, Deshawn Stevenson (!), Anthony Morrow/Dahntay Jones and rookie John Jenkins. On top of it all, Josh Smith shoots all the shots for them.
Back in Utah, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson played behind Mo Williams. It was a salary cap move, Harris’ deal expiring and Williams’ holding a player option that he was expected to exercise for a salary well beyond the worth he had become.
Well, you know where the story went from here. Heck, you may have known all the above stuff but thanks for skimming.
A free agent for the first time in his career, Harris signed a 3-year $9 million dollar contract to return to Dallas, but the mandatory transaction physical (ya know, like the one that made Tyson Chandler a Maverick and not Thunder) revealed a dislocated toe that would require surgery. The Mavericks and their former franchise point guard (and me!) still sought a reunion and worked out a contract two and a half weeks later for 1-year and the veteran’s minimum of $1.3 million.
Now an integral part of the Mavericks’ second unit, Devin Harris is proving to be a bargain and one well waited for. He’ll be 31 years old at the end of the month, but he still looks and plays with the invaluable, immeasurable energy, effort, heart, passion and hustle that made him a fan favorite upon entering the league in 2004.
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