After getting Jose Calderon to agree to a four-year, $28 million contract, the Mavericks moved quickly to bring back Devin Harris, handing him a reported three-year, $9 million deal.
Some may wonder why the Mavericks are loading up on point guards after drafting Shane Larkin, but Harris isn't really a point guard in the classic sense anymore. As such, this is great value for him, and I'm surprised another team didn't offer him more than what he got.
Harris is really a combo guard who plays more like a 2 at this point in his career. He split time at both positions in his year with the Hawks, often starting with Jeff Teague, subbing out early in the first quarter and then quarterbacking the second unit early in the second. He got a little lost in the shuffle early in the season, but became a very important role player once Lou Williams suffered a torn ACL in January. His assist percentage was down last year, but his effective field goal percentage was a career high and his true shooting percentage was his best mark since 2007-08. In other words: he's evolving as a player and is no longer occupying the same role he did in his first stint in Dallas.
At this point, Harris is usually playing with another ball-handler anyway. To put things in perspective: almost exactly half of his minutes this season (710 out of 1,421) came with Jeff Teague in the game. Harris also played another 294 minutes with Williams, and none of Atlanta's top 250 lineup trios featured Harris, Teague and Williams. That means that we're only talking about 417 of Harris' minutes, or just under 30 percent, coming when he's the only ball-handler. This idea of him being a point guard like Calderon is a point guard is obsolete.
And in this role, Harris thrived last year. The Hawks were a whopping 7.3 points better per 100 possessions with Harris in and 2.7 points worse per 100 possessions with him out. Most of that impact came defensively; the Hawks surrendered 97.9 points per 100 possessions when Harris played and 104.1 points per 100 possessions when he sat. The Harris-Teague pairing was particularly effective, as Atlanta outscored opponents by 10.4 points per 100 possessions when the two shared the court.
These numbers may seem like a fluke, to be fair. However, they are especially meaningful to the Mavericks because Calderon-Harris lineups will offer a similar dynamic. In particular, Calderon is a defensive sieve and will probably need to be hidden on the opponent's worst perimeter player. Harris can serve as the yin to his yang while also relieving him on the team's second unit until Larkin is ready for more minutes.
All this makes me wonder why Harris is going to make less than half as much as Jarrett Jack next season. They're the same age, and while Jack is a much better scorer, Harris is a much, much better defender. I think Dallas is getting a real bargain here.