The Nets wanted to improve their three-point shooting this off-season, futilely offering $125 million in long-term contracts to restricted free agents Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson but ultimately signing a number of players who have had some prowess beyond the arc.
One of them, perhaps the least acclaimed, was Joe Harris, a 6’6” free agent who had surgery on his right foot in February and then was traded by Cleveland to Orlando before being unceremoniously waived by the Magic.
But the man with the everyday name has shown off not just an uncommon shooting touch but a comfort level when he steps on the court.
“I don’t like to single guys out,’’ Kenny Atkinson told Brian Lewis, “but Joe Harris, you guys saw the other night, dynamic shooter.”
How the Nets wound up with Harris is interesting. When the Virginia product known as “Joey Buckets” was drafted in the second round of 2014, the Cavaliers were still in rebuild mode. LeBron James hadn’t made his decision to return to Cleveland. Suddenly, Harris became a third-string small forward bound for Canton. Then, the injury, trade and waiver.
Two Cavs staffers who had defected to the Nets this summer — Trajan Langdon, the executive in charge of Canton, and Bret Brielmaier, an assistant coach, knew how good Harris could be and pushed for the Nets to sign him to a two-year, vets minimum deal. The second year is a team option. Good deal.
Harris feels like he can help.
“My skill set matches up with the way we want to play pretty well, just being able to shoot the ball, moving hard off the screens, creating space on the offensive end,’’ said Harris, 25. “It’s definitely a good opportunity to fit in, plug into a system like coach Atkinson’s, and obviously the need on the team for shooters.”
So far, so good. Harris is shooting 5-of-8 from deep. There are issues with his defense which Harris acknowledges ... and staff say he’s working on. But his work ethic, as more than one staffer has noted, is strong.