The trade winds are buffeting Joe Harris, mainly because he’s become a valuable commodity: a young, confident shooter who increasingly can do other things. He can hit the three, is finishing at a high rate and become a reliable rebounder and defender.
But the 26-year-old Harris, whose contract expires in June, left little doubt in an interview published Tuesday where he wants to be and who he wants to be with.
“I’ve been enjoying being here and being a part of a good organization,” Harris told the Charlottesville Progress, home of the University of Virginia, his alma mater. “I love playing for Kenny. I love the teammates that we have and everybody else that’s in the organization. We have a lot of great people, top to bottom.
“I really don’t think about that stuff a whole lot. I focus on trying to get better here collectively and individually and just enjoying it while I can.”
Like so many Nets players, Harris credits Kenny Atkinson for his improvement, his confidence.
“He instills a lot of confidence in everybody that plays. He gives guys a lot of freedom to play their game. For me, being a shooter, he instills the confidence in me to be aggressive and to hunt shots.
“If I’m not aggressive and I’m not hunting shots, not taking the shots I’m supposed to be taking, then odds are I’m probably not going to play. If you have a coach that’s like that, it benefits everybody. It allows us to play our game, and play free and play loose.”
Compare that to what things were like two years ago when he broke his foot, was traded by Cleveland and cut by the Magic, all in a matter of days. At that point, before the Nets came calling, it was about survival.
“I definitely, at that point in time, wasn’t going to be thinking to myself that I’d be here and playing the minutes I’m playing and producing that way that I am,” he noted.
Harris’ desire to stay with the Nets isn’t unique despite the losing. Mike Fratello, talking about the Nets last week on NBA TV, discussed how the atmosphere in Brooklyn is affecting players.
“Everything is first class for the players,” Fratello told Matt Winer of NBA TV right after the Wizards loss. “They treat their players as if they’re the most important people in the world. And the players feel that... the facility, the practice facility, what they do...
“Going into the season, every player but one —and this is incredible— lives in Brooklyn. This didn’t happen before when they were over in Jersey . Some were in New York, some were in Jersey. When they first came over to Brooklyn, guys were all over the place. They got a commitment from them and these guys, some of them want to be back and get a long-term contract, not just the one-year deal.”
It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks and maybe for a couple of players a not so happy time if they have to leave.
- Q&A: Former Virginia standout Joe Harris discusses his breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets - Sam Blum - Charlottesville Daily Progress