In a free agency market that’s headlined by the everyday goers of the NBA, signing Joe Harris would be a home run for the Washington Wizards.
Joe Harris has become somewhat of a household name with the Brooklyn Nets. He’s served as an integral piece to their rise from the ashes of what may be the worst trade in NBA history, and they’re hoping to keep him around as they now pursue a championship.
But now that he’s a top commodity on a free agent market that’s relatively thin of any day-to-day game-changers, could Harris price himself out of Brooklyn’s range?
Harris has made it clear on multiple occasions that he’d prefer to remain in Brooklyn, but if history can tell us anything, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan come the offseason.
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One team that should look into acquiring the marksman is the Washington Wizards. In fact, if they’re putting together a “big board” of free agents to pursue, Harris should headline it.
The Wizards broadcasted to just about every team at the February trade deadline that they plan on making Davis Bertans their marquee summer signing come July. But Harris’ skillset may prove a better fit for what they’re lacking on both ends of the ball.
This season with Brooklyn he averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 63 games. He shot 41 percent from behind-the-arc, and 74 percent from the charity stripe.
Harris has been somewhat of a glue guy once he found his niche in Brooklyn.
He moves as well off the ball as anyone in the league, and is an above-average defender, something Washington desperately needs.
Signing him to any kind of deal would guarantee another starter for the Wizards, which they’re reportedly interested in finding over the summer, particularly along the wing.
Bertans spent the majority of the season coming off of the bench in a sixth-man role, and that isn’t expected to change should he resign for the reported $15 million per year he’s expected to earn.
It’s hard to see any team, even the Nets, paying Harris a $15 million salary annually.
The Wizards are one of the few teams with expectations for playoffs next season with that kind of room in cap space. They will also have both their mid-level and bi-annual exceptions to use this summer, with which they can add more firepower on the bench.
Washington used 20-year-old Isaac Bonga at starting small forward for most of this season, who has had some prominent moments defensively. But he’s had more deer in a headlight moments on offense than this Wizards team could afford this season.
Harris, on the other hand, is as reliable in late-game situations as any other shooter in the NBA.
He’s been one of the best clutch (5 minutes or less in regulation) shooters this season, behind 52 percent shooting in such situations, per NBA.com. Bradley Beal shot 36 percent in the clutch this season, and Bertans just 34 percent.
With point guard John Wall returning next season, the goal remains the same: playoffs.
Grabbing another starting-caliber player who’s got some experience in the postseason, and is accustomed to a team-first offense, may prove the best strategy in that regard. This will also allow Washington to cement their starting five by drafting a big man with their first-round pick.
The only question for Washington is whether or not they’ll be able to afford him. Luckily, any pursuit of Harris shouldn’t be dragged out this summer. He’ll go either one of two routes: resign with the Nets, or choose to take a different path that leads to a larger payday.
If he should decide to enter the free agent pool, his fit on this Washington Wizards team could be seamless. A name for general manager Tommy Sheppard to keep an eye on as the offseason grows closer.