Devin Harris has been here before, but for how much longer will he be in Utah no one knows.
Over the last week – and even dating back as far as last June’s NBA Draft – Harris’ name has floated about in trade reports with the latest update coming early Friday morning that the Jazz are shopping the starting point guard they acquired last February from the New Jersey Nets in a package deal for Deron Williams.
Now it appears Harris could be on the move again with March 15th’s NBA trade deadline creeping up.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reported Utah has been shopping Harris since the D-League showcase two weeks ago, a reminder that dates back to the 2011 draft when the Jazz used Harris as a bartering chip to no avail.
So why move a young point guard who could help anchor and develop an offense that includes Al Jefferson, Josh Howard, Paul Millsap and the rookie combination of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter?
It comes down to three factors and even some possible destinations to consider.
Harris has struggled this season in Utah and tends to be more of a combo guard. Thursday night’s performance against one of his former teams, the Dallas Mavericks, is proof enough. Harris went 0-7 and finished with 1 point. This season he is averaging 8.1 points and 4.6 assists per game, which bleeds into the second point.
Both back-up point guards Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley make Harris expendable.
Watson’s consistent and productive play have some wondering if he will take over the starting job from Harris if Harris continues to linger in a slump. While Harris has started all 14 games for Utah, the team appears to click more offensively when Watson runs the show. Tinsley, despite only averaging 5 minutes a game in 7 appearances, has also been serviceable off of Ty Corbin’s bench.
The third factor: Money. Harris is set to make $17.8 million over the next two seasons.
If indeed Utah is shopping Harris, would the Toronto Raptors consider buying — or making a swap as the case would be.
Canada.com’s Hasan Alanam posed the question, and suggests a change of the guard in Toronto might benefit both Harris and Jose Calderon, who has equally been challenged to get going this season. Calderon is just one name that will likely be brought about in trade scenarios when it comes to Harris departing from Utah, if it comes to that.
Keep the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers in mind. Although Jeff Teague can be applauded for holding down point guard duties with Kirk Hinrich sidelined after offseason shoulder surgery, the Hawks are still thin at the point. And with all due respect to Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, the Heat still have a point guard dilemma to solve in South Beach (perhaps Watson would have been a good fit afterall), as do the Los Angeles Lakers with an aging Derek Fisher and now injured Steve Blake on the shelf for Mike Brown.
This much we know: GM’s around the league will be picking up the phone to listen if the Utah Jazz are on the other end dangling Devin Harris.