The mutual interest between the Mavericks and Harris is strong, so there is a high probability that he will return. The negotiations have a natural starting point of a three-year deal worth a little more than $9 million. Harris and the Mavs originally agreed to the offer last summer before the discovery that he needed complicated toe surgery, which led to Harris signing a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum salary and missing the first half of the season.
The Mavs want Harris back because he’s one of the league’s better backup point guards, is a high-character fit for their culture, has excellent chemistry with his teammates and has corporate knowledge of coach Rick Carlisle’s schemes. However, if for some reason the Mavs can’t hammer out a deal for Harris, there should be several quality backup point guards available with similar or perhaps even lower price tags.
The Mavs, who are pleased with Calderon as their starter, will not be in the market for Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. They’d love to land Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, a dynamically athletic 24-year-old with star potential, but the Suns are expected to match any offer the restricted free agent receives.
Some point guards who could be fits for the Mavs if Harris heads elsewhere:
Shaun Livingston: The fourth pick in 2004 has seen his career derailed by a devastating knee injury, but he’s worked his way into being a quality role player, averaging 8.3 points and 3.2 assists in 26 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets last season. Like Harris, the 6-foot-7 Livingston, 28, is capable of providing quality minutes at both guard positions.
Steve Blake: The 34-year-old Blake’s intelligence and competitiveness made him a Kobe Bryant favorite during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s declined as an athlete. He’s a decent 3-point shooter and passer, but he’s not nearly the off-the-dribble threat that Harris is. Heck, he might not even be the off-the-dribble threat that Calderon is.
Patty Mills: In his fifth NBA season, Mills emerged as a lethal shooter off the Spurs’ bench, playing an important role in their title season. But unless another team overpays him, why wouldn’t Mills re-sign with San Antonio and try to help them repeat for the first time in franchise history?
Mario Chalmers: His Miami tenure might come to an end after he played so poorly in the Finals that he was benched for Game 5. He’s still a solid point guard with career averages of 8.6 points and 3.8 assists in 27.5 minutes per game. Would he accept a reserve role after recently starting for two title teams?
Mo Williams: Williams has career averages of 13.3 points and 4.9 assists per game and has performed well as a sixth man for teams that have made the Western Conference semifinals -- the Clippers and Trail Blazers -- in two of the past three seasons. The 31-year-old is capable of running an offense and playing off the ball. But he’s looking for a raise after declining an option to make $2.8 million in Portland next season.
Kirk Hinrich: He’s a less-athletic, better-perimeter-shooting version of Harris and a smart veteran capable of playing both guard spots. Hinrich averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 assists per game for the Bulls last season, serving primarily as a starter due to Derrick Rose’s injury. He’s earned a reputation as a good defender, but at 33 with a long injury history, how much tread is left on his tires?
Ramon Sessions: Sessions has put up pretty good numbers (11.7 PPG, 4.7 APG) mostly for bad teams throughout his career, having made the playoffs only once in his seven years. The Mavs had discussions with his agent two summers ago but weren’t willing to make more than a one-year offer.
Greivis Vasquez: The 6-foot-6 Vasquez has played for four teams in four seasons despite leading the league in assists in 2012-13, averaging 13.9 points and 9.0 assists per game for a 27-55 New Orleans team. Vasquez, a restricted free agent, has made it clear that he hopes to return to Toronto.
Jordan Farmar: A reserve on the Lakers’ two most recent title teams, Farmar was out of the NBA for a year before returning to L.A. last season and averaging 10.1 points and 4.9 assists in 41 games. He’s a decent defender and has the quickness to create off the dribble plays.
Jerryd Bayless: The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Bayless is a big point guard with explosive athleticism and can occasionally score in bunches, but he’s bounced around to five teams during his six-year career. He’s not much of a playmaker (2.9 assists per game in his career) and doesn’t defend as well as a guard with his physical gifts should.
Brian Roberts: Roberts, a 28-year-old with only two seasons of NBA experience after playing overseas for several years, averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game as a part-time starter in New Orleans last season. He’s a good spot-up shooter but doesn’t penetrate well and is challenged defensively due to his size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds).
D.J. Augustin: A lottery pick in 2008, the 26-year-old former Texas star rejuvenated his career coming off the Bulls’ bench last season. Averaging 14.9 points and 5.0 assists in 30.4 minutes per game after signing in mid-December, Augustin was one of the league’s best minimum-salary bargains. How big of a raise will he get?
Beno Udrih: The veteran lefty, who turns 32 in July, has come up in trade talks with the Mavs a few times over the years. He averaged 7.9 points in 16.4 minutes per game in the playoffs for the Grizzlies after Nick Calathes’ suspension forced Memphis to give backup minutes to a midseason addition. If the Mavs miss out on other veterans, Udrih could be a fit for the veteran’s minimum.