Moving swiftly in response to competition after NBA free agency opened at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday, Nets general manager Sean Marks locked up Joe Harris, the valuable reserve three-point shooter the organization developed during the past two seasons. Marks then added backup center Ed Davis to address a key need, all within the first 45 minutes of the market.
Harris agreed to a two-year deal worth $16 million, a significant bump over the $6-million starting salary he was projected to get, because of competition from the Pacers. The 6-10 Davis, an eight-year veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Trail Blazers and has averaged 6.6 points and 6.5 rebounds in his career, took a one-year deal worth $4.4 million. Davis and Jeremy Lin played together in 2014-15 with the Lakers and developed some chemistry.
The Harris and Davis deals first were reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The details were confirmed to Newsday by an NBA source.
The Nets spent the past two seasons developing Harris into a key reserve who averaged 10.8 points and shot 41.9 percent from three-point range last season. Harris and Marks made it clear at the end of last season they wanted the relationship to continue.
As Harris previously told Newsday, “The relationship has obviously been great . . . I’ve really enjoyed being here. It’s the first place I really got an opportunity to play. From top to bottom, everybody in the organization is good people, and it’s a good place to come in and work and they have great culture. You just can’t take that for granted.”
There was some thought that he would delay his signing to accommodate the Nets, but an NBA source close to Harris said, “The goal is to get it done sooner rather than later.”
That’s what happened. The Nets paid a premium annual salary to Harris to keep him from the Pacers, who immediately pivoted and signed Mavs unrestricted free-agent forward Doug McDermott to a three-year deal worth $22 million, according to ESPN. That sequence of events demonstrated how much the Nets valued the work they put into Harris, who led the NBA in field-goal percentage on drives to the rim and is a better defender than McDermott.
Originally, the Nets faced a midnight deadline to guarantee the $1.54-million salary of 2016 second-round pick Isaiah Whitehead, who spent most of last season in the G League, but it was moved back to July 31 per an NBA source. Before the draft, an NBA source confirmed that Marks completed a trade for Charlotte center Dwight Howard, but that deal and all the actions Sunday morning won’t become official until the moratorium ends on Friday. Marks reportedly is in the process of negotiating a buyout with Howard.
Given the Nets’ lack of frontcourt depth, two other free agents who potentially could return are forwards Dante Cunningham and Quincy Acy. But their fate might depend on what Marks does in terms of shopping for a “stretch four” now that he has Davis to back up starting center Jarrett Allen.
One UFA forward who might provide the three-point shooting the Nets need is the Magic’s Mario Hezonja. The RFA market for power forwards also might tempt Marks if the Spurs’ Davis Bertans is attainable.