As Tim Connelly, Nuggets president of basketball operations, and his staff surveyed the roster during the pre-All Star portion of the season, it was quickly apparent to them that additional veteran experience was needed on the roster.
So, they addressed that need by acquiring Dallas guard Devin Harris on Thursday. He comes to the Nuggets along with a 2018 second-round pick in a three-team deal that sent former lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay to New York. Doug McDermott, meanwhile, went from the Knicks to the Mavericks.
“As we approach the stretch run, firmly entrenched in a battle for the playoffs, I think that Harris’s veteran savvy, his versatility – I think he’s played in 60-plus playoff games – coming from a quality program like Dallas, his impact will be huge as we play these next 28 games,” Connelly said.
Harris has played plenty of games in 14 seasons in the NBA, particularly in the playoffs. He’s played in 64 playoff games and averaged 9.1 points, 2.6 assists and 1.9 rebounds in those contests. This season for the Mavericks, Harris was averaging 8.5 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 18.3 minutes per game.
The Nuggets got an up-close look at how effective Harris could be in their games against Dallas this season. In two games against the Nuggets, Harris averaged 15.0 points on 52 percent shooting, and he nailed seven 3-pointers, shooting 53.8 percent from the arc.
Connelly said Harris’ playoff experience was a big factor when the organization targeted him for a possible trade.
“Quite a bit,” Connelly said. “Devin has played every role imaginable in his NBA career. So that flexibility certainly is helpful when acquiring a guy midseason. He’s seen it all.”
As for Mudiay, the former No. 7 pick overall in the 2015 NBA draft, Connelly said it was tough seeing him go.
“It’s certainly a bittersweet day,” Connelly said. “Emmanuel is a fantastic person. I got to know him and his family really well. When you make a trade with someone you’re close with, it’s with mixed emotions. We have such a young roster we felt it made sense to get a little bit older behind Jamal, with Jamal’s emergence. New York got a good basketball player and a very, very good person. I’m really cheering hard for Emmanuel. He put everything into this city and into this team, and sometimes a fresh start is what’s necessary, a change of scenery. Certainly, I think New York got a great kid.
“Through a lot of ups and downs we saw him mature as a person and as a player and we hope that maturation process continues in New York.”
The Mudiay-Harris deal was the only trade the Nuggets made on Thursday.
“I don’t think this deadline was especially pressure-filled for us,” Connelly said. “We were pretty specific in what we wanted to accomplish. We targeted certain players in deals and set out to achieve those goals. I think so much credit needs to go to our coaching staff for keeping our team as competitive as it has been with the loss of a four-time All-Star for nearly the whole season.
“We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries. It has not been an easy schedule recently, and I’m really proud of how our team has stayed above water and firmly entrenched ourselves in the second half of the Western Conference playoff chase. It’s excited to think we’re a couple of weeks away from having a fully healthy roster, which we haven’t been able to say all year. It’s a testament to the guys in the locker room, it’s a testament to the coaching staff.”
Christopher Dempsey: firstname.lastname@example.org and @chrisadempsey on Twitter