Gary Harris, Magic Agree to 2-Year, $26M Contract in 2022 NBA Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 19: Gary Harris #14 of the Orlando Magic smiles during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 19, 2022 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Veteran guard Gary Harris has agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract to return to the Orlando Magic, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Orlando Magic guard Gary Harris has agreed on a two-year, $26 million contract extension, his agents Austin Brown and Aaron Mintz of <a href="https://twitter.com/CAA_Basketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CAA_Basketball</a> tell ESPN.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today first reported a deal would be completed.

There was a time when the 27-year-old looked like he'd be a key piece of the Denver Nuggets' foundation. On the heels of an encouraging 2016-17 season, he signed a four-year extension with them worth $84 million.

Harris didn't see out the duration of that deal, though, as he was sent to Orlando in March 2021 as part of the Aaron Gordon trade. The move was a reflection of how much his value had fallen in the Mile High City.

ESPN's Kevin Pelton thought Orlando would only be a brief stop for Harris, positing he could be shipped out by the 2022 trade deadline or bought out altogether around that time.

Instead, the Michigan State product remained with the Magic for the entirety of the 2021-22 campaign as they suffered through the early stages of their rebuild.

In 61 games, the 6'4" guard averaged 11.1 points and 1.8 assists, shooting 43.4 percent from the floor and 38.4 percent from beyond the arc. His best performance came in a 119-118 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 2, when he dropped 22 points off the bench and hit six three-pointers.

In general, Harris didn't enjoy the kind of year that assured him of a big payday this season.

His offensive contributions were largely limited to his scoring. Per Basketball Reference, his three assists per 100 possessions were his lowest since 2015-16. He didn't compensate by being an elite defender, either.

Harris did at least show why he could be considered a budget-conscious three-and-D option for teams.

According to NBA.com, the 2014 first-round pick hit 41.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot three-point opportunities and connected on 49.5 percent of his long-range shots from the left corner.

Kirk Goldsberry @kirkgoldsberry

Most Efficient Shooters By Zone. What Jumps Out? <a href="https://t.co/p5XdCH0ngQ">pic.twitter.com/p5XdCH0ngQ</a>

Harris averaged 1.0 steals but held opponents to 37.1 percent shooting on threes, only 0.8 percent better than their usual percentage, per NBA.com. That second number can be partially attributed to playing on a team that leaned on Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and R.J. Hampton a lot in the backcourt.

As they continue charting their course forward, the Magic will obviously want to continue leaning heavily on Anthony and Suggs, as well as see what they have with Hampton. Given he turns 28 in September, Harris doesn't necessarily fit with Orlando's timeline.

But a general manager always has to be careful to balance some experience with any youth movement. Plenty of rebuilds have been hampered because a veteran leader or two weren't around to stop the younger players from developing bad habits.

Beyond what he'll deliver on the court, the Magic will likely expect Harris to be a tone-setter in the locker room.