For two seasons in Cleveland, Joe Harris barely was an afterthought at the end of the bench for the top team in the Eastern Conference. He appeared in just 56 games, including just five last season before undergoing right foot surgery in January.
But when the Nets were turning over rocks looking for talent that fits their system last summer, assistant general manager Trajan Langdon, who had been director of basketball operations for the Cavaliers, had some insight on Harris, who showed during the preseason that’s he’s exactly the kind of three-point shooter they thought he could be off the bench.
Describing why he signed a two-year deal worth $2 million, Harris said on Friday, “For me, it was kind of a no-brainer. You come into a situation with a system that fits my skill set and you look across the board at the youth we have on the team and their emphasis on wanting to develop guys and Kenny [coach Atkinson] with his background in player development. It all came together and meshed perfectly with the scenario I was looking for.”
Harris averaged 10.4 points during the preseason with a 55.6 shooting percentage that went up to 62.5 percent from three-point range (10 of 16). He drained a corner three near the end of the Nets’ 116-111 loss to the Knicks in the preseason finale that briefly cut the deficit to three.
It was a moment that showed Harris prepared well in Cleveland for the next stage of his career. “I’ve always had a lot of confidence in myself even though I didn’t play a lot my two years in Cleveland,” Harris said. “I was sitting behind some guys that have been around for a long time and have had a lot of success. Taking what I learned from there, I knew that if I had an opportunity to go elsewhere, there’s a lot of small things I saw that I would apply to wherever I went next.”
Atkinson runs a motion offense designed to spread the floor with long-range shooting to open things up for other players on the inside. Harris and backup point guard Greivis Vasquez have been especially effective coming off the bench in tandem.
“I love playing with Greivis,” Harris said. “He’s good at getting into the paint and finding guys for open shots, and he’s big enough to get a lot of passes over the top [of the defense] . . . My job is to be aggressive and hunt shots.”
Notes & quotes: The Nets waived free-agent PG Yogi Ferrell to reach the 15-man roster limit.