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Denver Nuggets’ Gary Harris happy to see Coach Michael Malone extended

As the longest-tenured Nugget, Gary Harris remembers how things were before Michael Malone’s arrival. Dozens of losses, a half-full Pepsi Center and minimal expectations. Once Malone arrived in 2015, the team’s fortunes trended upward and four years later, the Nuggets are mentioned among the NBA’s elite. It is for that reason, among others, Harris is thrilled his current head coach will remain in the Mile High City for the foreseeable future with a contract extension.  “I think it’s great. It’s a testament to what he’s done since he’s been here,” Harris told Nuggets.com prior to his team’s Christmas Night matchup with the Pelicans. “Where the program was when he was here in his first year to where we are now, it’s been night and day.” He added, “It’s definitely much-deserved for him and his family and for this organization as well. I think it’s a great move.” 

Harris played his rookie season under Brian Shaw and Melvin Hunt, averaging 3.4 points per game on a team that went 30-52. Under Malone’s tutelage, Harris has blossomed into the Nuggets’ starting shooting guard and one of the NBA’s top perimeter defenders. He currently has a career average of 12.3 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting. Under Malone, the Nuggets are 194-164 and Harris believes it’s down to the coach’s relentless nature.   “He makes sure guys are prepared. Since he’s come in, he’s cared about every game. He treats each game as if it’s the most important game of the year because quite frankly it is.” Harris said. “We stay focused on one game at a time and focus on the task at hand—winning games. That’s what we do [and it’s because of his mentality].”  Harris’ teammate Mason Plumlee agrees.  “His work ethic [is his greatest quality],” Plumlee said. “Players are going to agree or disagree with decisions, but you are never going to question his preparation. I think that demands respect and that’s been consistent for the short time I’ve been here.”  Although Malone is known for his passionate personality, Plumlee believes his head coach has evolved as the Nuggets have progressed in the veteran forward’s almost four seasons with the team.  “I think he’s evolved with the team with the understanding of where we’re at,” Plumlee said. “Just knowing that we’re in a different place this year than where we were last year, we have a little more experience. Just small things like the shootaround schedule to minute management, just stuff like that. He’s evolved with the team.”  Harris believes the familiarity between Malone and his players is vital and his new deal will allow the two sides to continue growing together.  “His relationships with the guys, everyone is really familiar with each other. He knows us really well, we know him really well. I think the chemistry is great.”