Veteran guard Devin Harris, the man who assisted Dirk Nowitzki for his 30,000th point in the NBA, has been an important player off the bench for the Mavericks ever since he returned to Dallas in 2013. Harris talked with HoopsHype about Nowitzki’s scoring milestone, his future with the team and more.
Devin Booker hit an amazing game-winner last Saturday against you guys… He’s nasty. What do you think of him?
Devin Harris: He’s growing a lot, and between last year and this season he is now kind of a go-to guy for them. He’s definitely one of the best young guards in the league now.
Does he have All-Star potential?
Devin Harris: Without a doubt, yeah. He’ll be an All-Star for a long time in this league.
Especially in this era… Lots of threes and guards ruling the league. Do you like it?
DH: Well… I mean, it’s definitely grown from what I was used to when I came into the league, but you’ve got to adapt to it. When I first came in, we didn’t have to shoot a lot of threes, and now it’s like just the way everybody kind of structures their offense. I guess it’s more of an international game and you have to adapt to it.
I’m feeling you liked the old days a bit more…
DH: Actually I can play in either [era]. Nowadays, there’s a lot more space for guards like myself to attack.
You were sidelined for the first month of the season and the team had a horrible record for the start of the year: 3-13. How did you guys keep the confidence to turn it around?
DH: Well, we looked at the schedule when it came out, and we knew the start of the season was going to be tough. But we knew the schedule would get a little bit softer for us, that we would be able to make a run and win some games. Just keep at it, keep believing. Then we played better, guys got healthier and we hit our stride at the right time.
Two important new additions for the Mavs during the season: Yogi Ferrell and Nerlens Noel. What do you think of them?
DH: They’ve been great. It’s funny because we went probably from one of the oldest teams in the league to probably one of the youngest teams in a very short time [laughs], and that doesn’t really happen too often in our game. Yogi has been great for us, giving us solid minutes while still learning the point guard position. And then Noel, the rim protector, an athletic guy who can run, block shots…
You have dished so many assists to Dirk Nowitzki, but how special was to be the teammate who gave him the assist for him to enter the 30,000-point club?
DH: It was great, it was an honor for me. I told the coach, as he got closer, that I wanted to be the guy to give him the assist. It was an honor just to be able to be a part of it.
What will his legacy be as a player?
DH: Well, like we discussed earlier, you know the game changed and now the bigs are shooting threes. Well, when Dirk came in, he was the first guy to do it and everybody kind of modeled after him. You have the one-legged fadeaway and other moves… All of that came from him. His legacy will be the seven-foot guy who could play like a guard, shoot like a guard and be efficient, and do other things as well. One of the first ones to be successful at it, and he led the way, especially for Europeans.
You have a team option on your contract next season. How do you feel about your future in Dallas?
DH: Still kind of up in the air… Right now, I’m just focused on the season, we’re trying to get to the playoffs. But I’d love to be back, and I think they would love to have me back. I hope that works out and I can play another year or a couple more here.
This is your 13th season. Do you see yourself playing 20 like Dirk is shooting for?
DH: I don’t know if I can get to 20. We’ll see if my body holds up. I won’t put a number on it. As long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll continue to play. I would like to stay in Dallas, but I don’t know what the future holds, or what options I’ll have. Having the opportunity to win a championship, which I haven’t done yet, is always a thing to consider.
Would you like to play for your hometown Bucks one day?
DH: Yeah, they really have turned things around. Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing extremely well, they have Jason Kidd, a guy I played against for a while, the new ownership, new building… Lots of things going on there, and I would love to go back there at some point, but Dallas is where I am now.
Would you like to be involved in basketball after your playing days are over, maybe coaching?
DH: Yeah, I’ve considered it. Actually, I talked to Rick [Carlisle] a little bit about it, thinks I’d be a good coach. Especially with the young guys that we have here, I’ve found myself doing a lot more teaching, helping them. It’s a possibility.
What are the favorite coaches you’ve played for?
DH: Rick is up there, obviously. Avery Johnson, Lawrence Frank… I enjoyed playing for Larry Drew in Atlanta.