Trade Deadline Day was a whirlwind of rumors, reporting and activity. 17 trades went down on Thursday, plus another two on Wednesday. After most of the big names were moved earlier in the season, and names like Dejounte Murray and Jerami Grant stayed put at the deadline, there wasn't a lot of sizzlie to the day's activites.
The Oklahoma City Thunder always make a deadline trade and this year was no different, although the team avoided the massive swing many were speculating that they could make. They traded Davis Bertans, Tre Mann, Vasilije Micic and a pair of second-round picks to the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward while adding a bit of draft capital arbitrage by swapping a first with the Mavericks.
The Detroit Pistons, by contrast, were far from quiet at the deadline. While teams like the Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls largely stood pat with their veterans despite a one-way ticket to the lottery, the Pistons embraced their standing and moved off of a number of veteran players to acquire picks and young players.
The Pistons made four separate trades at the deadline, in total moving off of Monte Morris, Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic and taking back a host of players in those deals. To legally pull off those transactions they needed to waive a few players, and that included one such veteran wing that would be the perfect target on the buyout market for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The perfect buyout signing for the Thunder
In all of NBA history, the best 3-point shooter for an entire career is current Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who hit 45.4 percent of his career 3-pointers. Not far behind him, in fifth-place all-time, is Joe Harris. The former Brooklyn Nets wing spent the last few months in Detroit but was just waived and will soon find himself a free agent.
Harris is a sharpshooter, pure and simple. He can hit shots sprinting off of movement, backpedaling to the arc, grabbing off of handoffs or catching from anywhere around the arc. For his career he has hit 43.6 percent of his 3-pointers, including two separate seasons leading the NBA in accuracy.
This season has not been hsi best. Minor injuries and an inconsistent place in the rotation have limited his impact, and in a relatively small sample size he is hitting just 33.3 percent of his 3-pointers. That's on just 30 total attempts for the year, though, so that's hardly much evidence suggesting his shooting ability has waned in any way.
Interestingly enough, in games where Harris takes at least three 3-point shots, Harris is shooting 47 percent from deep. In games where he takes three or fewer shots, he is just 2-for-13 (15.3 percent). The shooting ability is not in question for Harris.
It's fair to question whether injuries have pulled down the rest of his game. He was once an above-average perimeter defender and that may have lessened, both from injuries and aging. Harris is 32 years old and may not have the same impact he once did.
At his peak, however, Harris was an elite 3-and-D player, playing a pivotal role on some very good Brooklyn Nets teams. He can do a little creating off the dribble when defenses close out hard to him, and he can hit the right pass to move the ball along. At his best, though, he's smoothly launching a longball and watching it kiss the nets on its way through.
The Thunder traded three players on Thursday and got back only one, opening up two roster spots with which to peruse the buyout market. While a number of players were waived on Thursday and more will come, the Thunder should be stocking up on size and shooting to have plug-and-play options if injuries strike in the playoffs. The 6'6" Harris provides an intriguing replacement for Isaiah Joe and could even find a few minutes in the rotation if his shot is falling.
What gives the Thunder an inside edge to sign Harris is that the 10-year veteran made more money this season than the Mid-Level Exception amount of $12.4 million, which under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) prevents teams over the luxury tax apron of signing players waived in-season who made more than the MLE.
That prevents teams like the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics of signing Harris. That removes a lot of contenders, and could put the Thunder in position to sign him to a rest-of-year contract.
Harris may be done as an impactful NBA player; he certainly wasn't able to make a difference for a Pistons team that desperately could have used him. They also couldn't find a way to make use of a lot of players, however, and if Harris can be healthy his shooting will translate. It's worth a flier for the Thunder to take a look.