If Carmelo Anthony is indeed traded to the New Jersey Nets as has been reported for eons, Devin Harris will apparently move to the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets don't need Harris thanks to the presence of Ty Lawson, and would be expected to try to flip Harris, either as a part of the big trade or in a subsequent deal. The Sacramento Kings have been looking for a pass-first point guard.
Is there something to the possibility?
No, probably not. The Kings are determined to wait until July to use their cap space according to every report, unless there's a slap-you-in-the-face deal waiting for them. Acquiring Harris, even if the Kings only have to give up a second-round pick, is not enough of a slap-you-in-the-face deal to blow the team's payload. And blow the team's payload it would: Harris is due $9.3 million next season, and $8.5 million in 2012-13.
While the Kings expect to have upwards of $20 million in cap space (depending on how collective bargaining shakes out), that $9.3 million is a huge dent, and would certainly dampen the type of fireworks the Maloofs and Geoff Petrie have planned.
But as Rob Small of Crowned Hoops notes, it's not as if the 2011 free agent class is replete with point guard. The 27-year-old Harris is arguably a better fit with the Kings than Aaron Brooks would be, despite the team's reported interest in the Rocket guard. Is there any guarantee Brooks will be much cheaper than Harris, considering that Brooks will be a restricted free agent?
As for fit, Harris is the better (or at least more frequent) passer of the two. Brooks has a career assist rate of 23.9 percent, and is at a career high 32.9 percent this season. Harris' career assist rate is 30.3 percent, and Avery Johnson has him up to 41.3 percent this season. That's good for No. 8 in the NBA. For comparison's sake, Tyreke Evan's career assist rate is 25.9 percent. That means Brook is less of a playmaker than Evans; the team (and many fans) believe Evans is not enough of a playmaker, thus requiring the addition of a playmaking point guard. Brooks ain't it. Harris would be.
The concern is that Harris isn't a great shooter, just 30.1 percent from long-range. Harris is decent from the mid-range, slightly sub-Beno Udrih. Brooks is both prolific and efficient from long-range, shooting a career 37.6 percent on three-pointers while averaging 4.5 per game. So that would help with Brooks (although it's not established that Udrih himself couldn't shoot that well in similar shot attempts).
The Kings want a point guard, and it's unclear a cheaper, better option than Harris will be available this offseason. The other solution? The draft, where Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker figure to be top candidates to become a very high draft pick by the Kings. But can the Kings bet on the draft for a specific position? Is it worth rolling all the dice in June and July if one of the needed pieces could be available now?
Again, this is likely moot: the Kings want to wait, and there's more incentive than disincentive in waiting. But don't think they can't be tempted to watch this little birdie flutter by over the next month. Players of Harris' caliber aren't frequently so completely up for grabs.