Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that talks are underway for a new deal to bring the popular point guard back to the Mavericks, with a resolution expected in the coming days after Dallas makes moves to address its center needs. The parties were forced to cancel the three-year, $9 million deal agreed to earlier this month because Harris needs toe surgery.
After the sides reached terms on a reunion deal early in free agency, X-rays unexpectedly revealed that Harris requires surgery on a dislocated toe on his left foot that likely will sideline him for three months. Dallas then quickly switched gears Friday to sign Milwaukee Bucks free agent Monta Ellis to a three-year deal worth at least $25 million.
The money no longer being spent on Harris, sources said, has been earmarked for the signing of a big man or two, with Dallas chasing both Milwaukee free agent Samuel Dalembert as well as former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden.
The Mavs, no matter what happens with their new frontcourt targets after missing out on Dwight Howard, would like to add Harris to a guard rotation featuring Ellis and fellow free-agent signee Jose Calderon, with rookie guards Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel getting time to develop behind that trio.
The Mavericks originally pursued Harris to pair him in the backcourt alongside Calderon, convinced that the pair could start together after Harris' success as an off guard in Atlanta.
Harris, 30, was drafted fifth overall by the Washington Wizards in 2004, then traded to the Mavericks, where he played his first four-plus seasons. He averaged 9.9 points and 3.4 assists as a part-time starter last season for the Hawks. Atlanta was Harris' third team since Dallas made him the centerpiece of a package to acquire Jason Kidd in a blockbuster deal with the then-New Jersey Nets before the 2008 trade deadline.
Harris was an Eastern Conference All-Star in his first full season with the Nets. The Mavericks explored the possibility of reacquiring Harris numerous times since he left town in the Kidd trade, including trade discussions with the Nets in 2010 before Harris was sent to the Utah Jazz as part of Brooklyn's acquisition of Deron Williams.