Dallas Mavericks point guard Devin Harris is under contract for next season, but the team can waive him and owe the 13-year NBA veteran only $1,339,662 of his $4,402,546 salary. Harris understands it’s up to the Mavericks to determine his future with the team, and he has no idea what they are going to do.
“Obviously, it’s a team option,” Harris told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “The ball is in their court, but they haven’t given me any indication.
“I think going into the summer, the draft and free agency kind of plays a part first. And we’ll kind of see where it is from there.”
Harris’ 2017-18 salary won’t become fully guaranteed until Jan. 10, 2018, so the Mavericks can wait to release him, if that is the plan, until they need the cap space to sign a free agent or complete a trade.
When asked about it, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle didn’t know if Harris will return next season.
“Obviously, I’d like him to stay here healthy as long as he can,” Carlisle said. “He’s playing at such a high level. Some of that will be determined by other things. Right now, it’s just impossible to know.”
In 65 appearances this season, Harris averaged 6.7 points, 2.1 assists and 2.0 rebounds.
The NBA regular season concluded Wednesday, ending the Dallas Mavericks’ streak of three straight playoff berths. Let’s look back on the Mavs’ season and think about what they might do this offseason.
It’s no surprise that this ended up being a transitional year for the Mavs. But they will likely bring back much of their core from this season and add a lottery pick to a team that is sure to contend for the postseason next year.
DALLAS — They enjoyed each other’s work from afar for years, Tony Romo and Dirk Nowitzki. For a decade, they carried the hopes of their franchises. Over the years, they went from friendly to friends, and on Tuesday they became teammates.
Nowitzki was able to reach the NBA’s summit with a championship in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks. Romo wasn’t as fortunate to do it with the Dallas Cowboys, but they forged their relationship through a love of sport and competition.
Roughly an hour before Tuesday’s tip-off between the Mavericks and Denver Nuggets, inside the practice gym with only a handful of fans able to watch peering through a restaurant window, Romo and Nowitzki went through shooting drills.
It was an odd site to see the Cowboys’ all-time leader in touchdown passes and the Mavericks’ all-time leading scorer — and the No. 6 scorer in NBA history — getting ready for a game at the same time, even though Romo would not be allowed to play.
“Obviously he was a good player back in Wisconsin, I guess, back in high school,” Nowitzki said. “You could tell. He’s got some handles. He’s got a little shot. We shot a little bit before the game down there on the practice court and he made four out of five threes. So I had to actually concentrate to beat him. He’s a good player.”
Nowitzki won the shooting contest by one, but Romo did beat J.J. Barea.
When they reached the court for the game, the attention from the fans was more on Romo than Nowitzki. They playfully engaged with one another as if they had been teammates for years, not hours. After the introductions, Nowitzki took the microphone to thank the fans for their support despite missing the playoffs. Then he offered up a quick tribute to Romo.
“Just a fun day, I think,” Nowitzki said. “It’s good to honor him and the crowd was fired up for him. He deserved it. He meant a lot for Dallas, for the people, for the sports scene here for a long, long time. He was great on and off the field, did a lot of stuff here. I think he deserved it.”
The idea of Romo becoming a Maverick for a day was born out of a celebration of Nowitzki reaching 30,000 points earlier in the season. That Romo was in attendance speaks to the relationship he has developed with Nowitzki.
“They don’t make them like Dirk, I can tell you that,” Romo said after the Tuesday shootaround. “I think when we look back … he’ll be the greatest Maverick that’s ever played for the next 150 years. There’s not going to be a guy that gets close to that. There’s an argument to be made — and me and [Mavs coach] Rick [Carlisle] had a good, long discussion a couple weeks back — but he’s right in the discussion of top five [players of all-time]. We both conceded he’s an automatic top-10 and we made a big argument for top-five player of all time. And then we started talking about the efficiency aspect, and he’s probably the most efficient basketball player whose ever played when you look at the numbers.”
The German-born Nowitzki did not grow up an NFL fan, but he grew to appreciate Romo in a similar fashion.
“He was a master at making stuff out of nothing,” Nowitzki said. “Being stuck in situations where you feel like three, four guys around him, usually other quarterbacks would just go down, but he would spin and then spin the other way and run back 10 yards and then find the open receiver. Just the scrambling that he did when the play wasn’t working he was one of the best in the game. He was so much fun to watch. You’re kind of sitting there, holding your breath for a second and he comes up with another solution. It was just fun to watch. There was a little bit of Brett Favre in him, I think, just making plays out of nothing when the play breaks down. That’s what I remember him the most for.”
As the final minutes ticked off the clock and Nowitzki’s season was over — he’s not making the Mavericks’ trip to Memphis for Wednesday’s season finale — the newest of teammates had fun with the crowd. Romo took off his sweatpants and acted as if he was ready to go in the game. Nowitzki played it up. They shared some quick words and shook hands as the buzzer sounded; teammates for a day, friends for a lot longer.
“It’s a treat just to be able to be out here and know him and get a chance to communicate with him, learn from him,” Romo said. “Anybody that’s been around him knows that you’re in the presence of something special. I think the young guys on the team know that and they don’t take it for granted.”
FRISCO, Texas — A week ago today, we learned Tony Romo would be released by the Dallas Cowboys, that he would walk away from the game but not retire and that he would join CBS as its lead NFL analyst.
Tonight, Romo will be in a Dallas Mavericks uniform for their season finale against the Denver Nuggets at American Airlines Center.
What a strange week.
But if one thing has been clear, it has been the level of appreciation shown to Romo in the past week.
The Cowboys had No. 9 grace the digital boards outside their Ford Center at The Star offices. The downtown Omni Dallas Hotel had a big No. 9 grace its building at night. Jason Witten offered up a heartfelt message on social media over the weekend, joining a chorus of teammates who sang Romo’s praises.
Romo has been remembered for his ability — he is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in touchdown passes and passing yards. He has been remembered for his toughness — he played half a season with a punctured lung and cracked rib. He has been remembered for his thoughtfulness — the concession speech he made last November.
Now the Mavericks will have Romo on the bench for their last game of the season, even if coach Rick Carlisle says it will not lead to Romo’s making an appearance in the game.
Carlisle said on ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas on Monday that Mark Cuban ran the idea of honoring Romo this way past Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones. Carlisle said he spoke with Jason Garrett about it, too. The Cowboys were more than pleased to sign off on the idea.
Over the years, Romo has become a big Mavericks fan and a friend to Carlisle. He has been known to jab the referees and keep running conversations with players during games. When Dirk Nowitzki recently surpassed 30,000 career points, Romo was there and attended the postgame celebration, as well.
Caron Butler stepped into the Romo appreciation tour Monday by saying Romo could have played professional basketball. (He never said the NBA, by the way. Just pro basketball.) Romo and Butler were two-fifths of the All-Racine County team in 1998. While at Eastern Illinois, rumor had it Romo would play pickup games against the school’s all-time leading scorer, Henry Domercant, who had a long professional career overseas, and fared quite well. Domercant and Romo were inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame the same year.
Over the years, Carlisle has attended Cowboys practices and meetings. He was impressed with Romo’s attention to detail and the questions Romo would ask his coaches in those sessions. He has seen Romo show the same attention during Mavericks games.
There is an equal admiration of Carlisle’s ability from Romo.
It might seem odd to many that the Mavericks would choose this way to honor Romo. It’s hard to see the Cowboys doing something similar for Nowitzki, although visualizing the 7-footer in pads before a game would be interesting, to say the least.
A week ago today, we woke up knowing Romo’s future with the Cowboys was coming down to its final months, weeks or days, and it turned out it was in its final hours. He wasn’t without a job for long, going to CBS’ lead analyst spot with Jim Nantz by the end of the day for a job that has been held by only four others: Pat Summerall, Tom Brookshier, John Madden and Phil Simms.
From the Cowboys to CBS to the Mavericks, all in a week.
What’s next, an exemption to the ATT Byron Nelson PGA Tour event next month?
As he nears the earlier-than-normal end of his 19th year on the job, the Dallas Mavericks’ living legend still enjoys showing up for work.
No, this is not how Nowitzki hoped his NBA twilight would go down. He didn’t leave dozens of millions of dollars on the table since the Mavs’ 2011 title run — some of which owner Mark Cuban made up by giving him a $25 million salary last summer — to never sniff the second round of the playoffs again.
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But here Nowitzki is, 38 years old on a lottery-clinched, forward-looking team that has more losses (45) than the Mavs have had in any other season during his tenure. Nowitzki is a natural pessimist, which he half-jokingly blames on his German blood, but he’s embracing the positives regarding the Mavs’ reality as a rebuilding team.
“It’s fun being around guys that want to work, that want to learn, that want to get better,” Nowitzki told ESPN after a rough shooting outing Friday in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a night before the Mavs were officially eliminated from playoff contention for only the second time in the past 17 years.
It reminds him of his early Mavs days with Steve Nash.
“It’s fun. It’s fun watching these guys and seeing myself in them 15 years ago, when I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I was just trying to be in the gym with Nashie at all times — mornings, nights — trying to get better.”
Oh, Nowitzki laments what might have been had he not missed most of the first two months with lingering soreness in his right Achilles tendon, an issue that suddenly crept up again over the weekend. Never mind that the ceiling for the Mavs would have been fighting for one of the West’s final playoff spots, as had been the case since Cuban opted to prioritize cap space over keeping an aging roster intact after the championship run and ensuing lockout. He still craves another crack at the postseason.
But Dallas, which entered the season with dual goals of competing for a playoff spot and developing young talent, was doomed by a 2-13 start and bottomed out at 16 games under .500 since then. The youth movement became more and more of a focus as the season progressed, as the Mavs bid farewell to injury-prone stopgap veterans Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut after the All-Star break, a strategy Cuban has called tanking while trying to win.
The Dallas Mavericks will look to upgrade their roster during the offseason, and a priority is at point guard.
“We got to get better at point, there’s no question,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban told The Dallas Morning News. “If we can’t do it in the draft, we’ll look at free agency and see what we can do. Yogi Ferrell is going to get better. Seth Curry will continue to get better. I’d love to see Nico Brussino play some point forward and see how that works. He’s probably one of our best passers.
“We’ll have depth, but we have to get that one pass-first point guard. That’s what we don’t have.”
The Mavericks’ current point guard depth chart includes Devin Harris, JJ Barea, Ferrell and Curry. Barea and Curry have guaranteed salaries for 2017-18, while Harris’ deal, which pays $4.4 million, has $1.34 million worth of protection. The Mavericks can bring back Ferrell by exercising their team option in late June. Harris and Curry bring versatility to the roster, as both can also play at shooting guard.
If they don’t move up into the top three of the NBA draft lottery, the Mavericks will likely have a pick in the Nos. 9-11 range. ESPN’s Chad Ford just released his Mock Draft 4.0 and has Dallas selecting point guard Frank Ntilikina (France) at No. 9. Ford writes: “In a draft less loaded with point guards, he could be a top-five pick. He’s skilled, tough and a good shooter. He would have a great shot at being the Mavs’ point guard of the future to run with young players like Harrison Barnes and Nerlens Noel.”