Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story on Devin Harris that will appear in Wednesday’s print edition of the AJC. The Hawks play at the Pacers tonight (I am not there) and Harris is expected to make his exhibition debut.
The Hawks are just now getting an up-close look at the assets of Devin Harris. However, coach Larry Drew has known for months how he intends to use the versatile guard this season.
Harris, acquired from the Jazz in a trade for Marvin Williams on July 11, reported to the team’s facility by the end of that month to begin workouts. He began having trouble with his knee and eventually required a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) shot. Harris was cleared for full-contact practice last week. He had not appeared in any of the Hawks’ previous three exhibition games prior to Tuesday’s game at the Pacers, where he is expected to debut.
The PRP shot, of Harris’ own blood, was injected to stimulate the healing of bone and soft tissue. Harris said he was limited while the injection could have its full effect.
Harris will be counted on this season, as part of a multiple-guard rotation, to replace Joe Johnson at the shooting guard position.
“At times he’s going to play (point guard),” Drew said. “At times he’s going to play (shooting guard). At times he’s going to be a combination of both.”
Harris said he does not have a preference where he plays. He has been in a similar position with the Mavericks when he played alongside Jason Terry. With the Hawks he will be sharing the court with Jeff Teague and Lou Williams, all capable of bringing the ball up court or playing the wing.
“I’ve seen the way it can work and how it can work so I have a little bit of experience,” Harris said. “It doesn’t matter who brings the ball up as long as you push the ball. A lot of the three guards can do similar things. We all can space the floor. We all can get in the paint and score. We all can get to the free-throw line. If we have two guys out there at the same time who can do that, it’s going to be tough to guard.”
Originally drafted by the Wizards out of Wisconsin in 2004 (fifth overall), Harris was a draft-night trade to the Mavericks, where he played the first three-plus seasons of his career. He was traded to the Nets, where he was named an All-Star in 2008-09. After two-plus seasons he was sent to the Jazz, where he spent the past two seasons before being acquired by the Hawks. Last season Harris played in 63 games, all starts, and averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 assists, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 27.4 minutes. He had a career-best .362 3-point field goal percentage.
“I was excited,” Harris said of the latest trade that caught him by surprise. “Atlanta has always been a good team. They made the playoffs the last five years. I like their style of play and their approach to the game. It is a good fit for me.”
Harris admits to being “a little rusty” as he gets back into full-contact action. He has spent part of his team on the bench working with Teague, showing the younger player the ins and outs of playing on and off the basketball. It’s a role both Harris and Drew want for the veteran.
“I try to give examples of things I’ve done in the past,” Harris said. “I’m constantly talking to Jeff during games about things I see. I encourage guys to do the same because I all have to hold each other accountable.”
Drew said he expects Harris help Teague get comfortable playing without the ball, something he hasn’t done since college.
The coach has been waiting to get Harris back to full health so he can start to see his original plans come to life.
“I know enough about him,” Drew said. “When we first made the acquisition, I knew exactly how I wanted to use him. He’s been on the sideline watching a lot prior to him coming back so I knew exactly how I wanted to use him once he was cleared to go full tilt. It’s just a matter of inserting him in there and utilizing him the way I envisioned.”
- Chris Vivlamore
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