I know what you guys are thinking, “Why would we trade for an oldish injury prone point guard when we have our own (Devin actually played eight more games than Parker last year)?” Well, this trade would be one that the Nets make during the season if the whole “Devin Harris-Avery Johnson: Take 2” doesn’t work out. We have heard both Devin Harris and Avery Johnson say that they have matured since their days together in Dallas, but we aren’t going to know if things truly changed until the games are played. Both Devin and Coach Johnson are fierce competitors and if they can’t keep a working relationship during competition it isn’t going to work. As Nets’ fans, we have seen how a split between the players and the coach can hurt the individual’s (and most importantly the team’s performance). CDR and T-Will both had their problems with the coaching last year and when they deal, their play was negatively bothered by it. With Avery basically running things (I still think Billy King is just a figurehead), if Devin and Avery butt heads, Devin is going to be the one on the move.
If the Nets have to move Harris for another point guard, you can do a lot worse than Tony Parker. He does a better job running the pick and roll than Devin Harris (which is something the Nets will do a lot of this year with Favors and Lopez so good at running the PNR), both in terms of individual scoring and team performance. Parker tallied an individual PPP (points per possession) of .88 last year, ranking him 10th among starting PGs (Devin was 19th with a .79 PPP), and the Spurs had a PNR-Roll Man PPP of 1.03, good for 16th (Devin had the Nets at 20th with .98). On the defensive end, Parker is worlds ahead of Devin Harris, and this might be one of the reasons Avery wants to make the deal. Tony Parker held opponents to a PPP of .82 (ranking him 44th in the NBA), while Devin Harris allowed opponents to get a PPP of .90 (good for 204th in the NBA). Parker’s history of injury worries me a bit, but the Nets have a guy in Jordan Farmar who can step in and start if needed.
So why do the Spurs do this deal? Well, Parker is an expiring contract and dealing him for Devin Harris saves them right around $5 million this year. It also gives them a long term answer at PG, if the Spurs want to give up on Parker. It might take some additional cash or picks to get the deal done, but I think the swap can be done. There is another option as well:
Again, this deal will be based on whether or not things go well during the regular season. This time though, it is all about the Spurs. After Manu Ginobili at the shooting guard position, the Spurs are basically experimenting with young shooting guards/small forwards…and Richard Jefferson. If these guys don’t perform well for the Spurs, the Nets might be able to get a guy like DeJuan Blair by including Courtney Lee (You can interchange him with T-Will here, but I think Courtney is more of a “Spurs Guy”) in the trade (again, the Nets might need to add picks or cash to finalize the deal). Blair would be a great pickup because he can be the banger inside that the Nets need. Also, if Derrick Favors isn’t ready in year one, Blair is good enough to take the starter minutes (and then going back to a backup role in year two).
A deal like this probably isn’t going to happen, because I personally believe that the Avery Johnson and Devin Harris relationship isn’t going to fall apart. If it does, they are going to need to get rid of Devin (especially coming off of a twelve win season), and they need to get a starter in return. A deal with the Spurs provides that, and if the Spurs need an upgrade at the wing, the Nets may even be able to pull a very nice role player away from them.