Nelson hopes to get Harris back in Frisco

Del Harris has left the front office of the fledgling D-League franchise in Frisco to serve as a lead assistant and mentor to new Nets coach Kiki Vandeweghe in New Jersey.

But that won’t necessarily create an opening with the yet-to-be named D-League squad co-owned by Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.

Nelson told ESPNDallas.com on Tuesday that he will hold off on searching for a new general manager – Harris’ new (and now old) gig as of Nov. 5 – until the summertime, just in case Harris decides he wants to return.

Nelson has the time to wait because the Frisco franchise doesn’t begin D-League play until the 2010-11 season. Harris will undoubtedly be hoping to still be working in New Jersey next season, but the whole Nets franchise is in flux with Vandeweghe, president Rod Thorn and the rest of the basketball staff all working on the final year of their contracts before the expected transfer in ownership control from Bruce Ratner to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

“Del’s chair will remain open until it absolutely has to be filled,” Nelson said. “We would love to have him back any time.”

Even if Harris ends up staying with the Nets beyond this season, Nelson said the 72-year-old will continue to be a sounding board for Nancy Lieberman, who was hired earlier this month as the first female head coach in D-League history. Nelson and president of basketball operations Spud Webb will split front-office duties until it becomes clear after the NBA season whether they’ll definitely need a replacement for Harris.

“If I have any questions, he’s only a phone call away,” Lieberman said of Harris. “And I will be calling.”

As for naming the team, Nelson said that the franchise continues to take suggestions (more info can be found by clicking here) and faces no strict timetable for choosing a name. He did add, though, that the D-League entry will almost certainly be identified as a Texas team as opposed to a Frisco team like the Rangers’ Double A affiliate Frisco RoughRiders.

“It’s 80 percent that we’ll go with Texas,” Nelson said.