Devin Harris is in his second tour of duty with the Dallas Mavericks.
The 10-year veteran guard would like nothing more than to have that second tour extended.
Harris becomes a free agent July 1. And he has no designs on packing up to play for another team. But he doesn’t want to be underpaid, either.
“I think winning is most important at this point in my career,” Harris said. “More than anything else.”
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When asked if money is important, too, the Milwaukee native smiled and said: “Yes, it is.”
Last summer the Mavericks verbally agreed to sign Harris to a three-year, $9 million contract. Then their medical staff discovered some frightening issues with the big toe on Harris’ left foot.
As a result, the Mavs pulled that contract agreement with Harris off the table, and he underwent surgery. He was eventually awarded a one-year contract for the veteran minimum of $1.3 million.
Now, based on the success he had this season and how the Mavericks probably would not have made the playoffs without his production, Harris would like to have that three-year, $9 million deal back.
“Obviously I don’t really know where [the negotiations] will go,” Harris said. “My intent is to come back, but like I said, only time will tell.
“I would rather not [sign a one-year deal]. It’s kind of tough to do, especially coming off surgery.”
Harris missed the first 41 games this season and the Mavs were 24-17 in his absence while using rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel as the backup to starting point guard Jose Calderon.
With Harris in the lineup the Mavs posted a 24-16 record — he missed the Feb. 12 win at Indiana with ankle and knee injuries — as he displayed his leadership, ball-handling skills and defensive prowess.
“Devin has just meant the world to this franchise,” Mavs president Donnie Nelson said. “It was an awkward situation this summer with his injury.
“Our big goal for Devin was to be healthy and not to have that toe be an issue. We had minute restrictions and that was all for his best interests medically.”
Nelson is hopeful that the Mavericks can reach a long-term contract agreement with Harris, who was vital to the Mavs’ three-guard offense that included Monta Ellis and Calderon.
“We look forward to Devin being a permanent fixture within the Mavericks’ organization,” Nelson said. “We hope that will be the case.”
Harris averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 assists in only 20.5 minutes per game while playing all 40 games off the bench this season. It marked the fewest points he’s scored and fewest minutes he’s played since his rookie season with the Mavericks in 2004-05.
Asked if this was an ideal role for him at this stage of his career, Harris offered a “yes and no” answer.
“Obviously, at some point I would like to play more, but I understand that we have three guards that we have to rotate,” the 31-year-old Harris said. “It’s something that I’m not used to doing, so it’s going to take some time to think about and how to work it the best I can.
“But I’m happy here, and I want to come back.”
Originally acquired by the Mavericks in a draft-day trade with Washington after he was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Harris was the backup point guard to Jason Terry when Dallas advanced to the 2006 NBA Finals. The Mavericks traded Harris to the New Jersey Nets in 2008 in a deal that brought Jason Kidd back to Dallas.
Then, after stints with Utah and Atlanta, Harris finally made his way back to the Mavericks, who hope to make this his permanent home.
“In the new game, to have guys [like Harris] who can get in the paint and create is extremely important,” Nelson said. “Especially given the dynamics of the Mavericks.”