The Denver Nuggets picked up the veteran point guard depth they were seeking by acquiring Devin Harris in a three-way trade that also saw the Dallas Mavericks acquire Doug McDermott and the New York Knicks get Emmanuel Mudiay.
Denver has been chasing a veteran point guard almost all season since they waived Jameer Nelson in October. Harris will fill the backup point guard spot behind Jamal Murray and will give the Nuggets the size they want in a point guard. He remains a solid playmaker and defender. He’s also hitting 35 percent of his three pointers this season, which is an upgrade over Mudiay’s career track record.
Harris is also on an expiring contract, which creates some wiggle room for the Nuggets towards the cap and luxury tax. This is created by shedding the $4.3 million owed to Mudiay for next year. With a potential max deal looming for Nikola Jokic this summer, after re-signing Gary Harris and signing Paul Millsap this past offseason, Denver is looking at a very pricey roster. They now have a little more flexibility than they had earlier today.
Grade for the Nuggets: B+
Dallas continues their rebuild and McDermott is an intriguing player for the Mavericks. He’s a combo forward, which fits what the Mavs like their 3/4s to be. He’s also good friends and former high school teammates with Harrison Barnes, who is signed on a long-term deal with the Mavericks.
McDermott has struggled to live up to his full potential as a shooting forward, but if any coach can unlock him, it is Rick Carlisle. He’s still a 39 percent three-pointer shooter, which can always help any team. The Mavericks will experiment for the rest of the season with lineups featuring Dirk Nowitzki, Barnes and McDermott with their young guard tandem in Dennis Smith Jr. and Yogi Ferrell, as well as veteran Wesley Matthews.
It is the presence of Smith and Ferrell, along with J.J. Barea, that made it easier for Dallas to trade Harris, who was a longtime Maverick. Now, they can work the three remaining players together, while McDermott is more of a true forward, whereas Harris often had to masquerade as a three.
Dallas also has plenty of cap flexibility this summer to retain McDermott, if they can agree to a mutually beneficial contract. Or they can non-tender him a qualifying offer and free up space to chase a bigger target in free agency or trade.
Grade for the Mavericks: B
Mudiay had been a longtime target of the Knicks, but the acquisition is a bit curious, given the Knicks already have Frank Ntilikina as their point guard of the future, and veterans Jarrett Jack and Trey Burke in the fold as well. But when you are a rebuilding team, the goal should be to accumulate as much talent as possible and then sort it out later.
Mudiay has struggled to crack the Nuggets' rotation this season, despite being the lone true point guard on the orster. This is due mostly to his inability to consistently knock down shots. He’s just a 37.5 percent shooter from the floor, which makes him virtually unplayable in today’s NBA.
New York can afford a reclamation project, however, and Mudiay fits the bill. The Knicks can experiment with lineups that see Mudiay and Ntilikina together. Jeff Hornacek had a lot of success in Phoenix utilizing dual-point guard lineups with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. That is something New York could try to recreate for the rest of this season.
McDermott had no long-term future with the Knicks and was regularly playing behind both Michael Beasley and Lance Thomas. This move also clears a little bit of cap space for this summer, given the difference between McDermott’s cap hold of $9.8 million and Mudiay’s $4.3 million salary. For a team that has to watch their money with a pricey extension coming for Kristaps Porzingis, even after his torn ACL, this helps balance the books a little bit.
Grade for the Knicks: B-