Gary Harris Trade Rumors: Nuggets Offering SG in Deals Ahead of 2021 Deadline

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMarch 22, 2021

Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) drives around San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Denver Nuggets are reportedly shopping shooting guard Gary Harris ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

The veteran would be used to potentially help offset salaries in a deal along with second-round picks. 

"Harris, a former cornerstone for the Nuggets, has dealt with a bunch of injuries and has otherwise struggled over the past few seasons," Vardon noted. "His number for this season is $19.1 million, but he's under contract for next season at nearly $20.5 million, too." 

Harris' play has been trending downward for a few seasons, with his 2020-21 campaign arguably the worst since his rookie season in 2014-15. 

Through 19 games, the starter is averaging 9.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 32.0 percent from behind the arc. If those hold, they would be Harris' worst numbers since his 2014-15 rookie season as a first-rounder out of Michigan State. 

Despite that, the Nuggets (25-17) have put together a solid year behind MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and are fifth in the Western Conference, just 5.5 games behind the Utah Jazz in first.

It's unclear which teams would be willing to take on Harris or his salary, but as the trade season continues to ramp up, it's possible his contract becomes a valuable tool to keep teams under the salary cap. 

One possible destination could be the Orlando Magic, which appears ready to clean house and is in need of guard play.

The Athletic's John Hollinger laid out a potential scenario that could work for both sides:

"[Aaron] Gordon might find a more desirable situation in Denver, where he would immediately fill the role vacated by Jerami Grant's departure a year ago. In this case, the likely terms are more clear: Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and Denver's 2021 first-round pick. The Nuggets can't surrender two firsts, at least any time in the near future, because they're blocked until at least 2025 on the second one due to the Stepien rule and a 2023 conditional first they owe Oklahoma City, but the 2021 pick is fair game. Hampton, the 24th pick in the 2021 draft, becomes the second one.

"That price also gets Denver out of its most problematic contract, an $18 million a year deal for the oft-injured Harris, who actually might fit in better on an Orlando team more desperate for guard help. Note that a second player would have to go back from Orlando to Denver with Gordon in order to keep the Magic out of the tax, with the smart money being on Khem Birch."

With three days until the deadline, all options are on the table.