NBA

Nets' Harris agrees Brooklyn return amid Harden rumours

By Sports Desk November 21, 2020

Joe Harris has agreed to return to the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year deal, his agent confirmed on Friday.

Harris, 29, was a free agent but the guard will reportedly earn $75million after re-committing to the Steve Nash-led Nets, Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.

The Nets were desperate to retain sharpshooter Harris, despite growing links to Houston Rockets superstar and former NBA MVP James Harden.

Harden reportedly wants to leave the Rockets, with the All-NBA guard believed to be eyeing a trade to the Nets, while Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers have also emerged as a possible destination.

Harris – the 2019 NBA Three-Point Contest champion – averaged a career-high 14.5 points per game for the Nets last season, while he also averaged 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

In the playoffs at Walt Disney World Resort amid the coronavirus pandemic, Harris averaged 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds as the Nets were swept by the Toronto Raptors in the opening round.

Since entering the league as the 33rd pick via the Cleveland Cavaliers, Harris has a career average of 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists, while he boasts a three-point percentage of 42.6.

Harris' renewal comes after the acquisitions of Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown in Brooklyn, where the Nets already boast Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Meanwhile, De'Aaron Fox's agent Chris Gaston told ESPN that the Sacramento Kings guard has agreed a five-year, $163m max extension.

Fox averaged a career-best 21.1 points per game last season, to go with averages of 6.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds.

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    Such impressive form has Jokic well and truly in the MVP conversation and he would be the first center to win the prize since Shaquille O'Neal did so in 1999-2000.

    "It's really good for big men. I'm just glad the world doesn't put the bigs aside. We're still popular," Jokic said.

    "I had a really good night. I scored a lot and I had a couple of stupid turnovers I can easily fix. It was good night for me and the team."

    Head coach Michael Malone feels Jokic has shown on plenty of occasions this season that he deserves individual recognition.

    "Life is about a bunch of little moments and I think Nikola's got around 56 little moments this year where he's shown he's the MVP. 

    "Tonight was a character win."

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  • Curry going 'above and beyond' with 'mind-boggling' form – Warriors coach Kerr Curry going 'above and beyond' with 'mind-boggling' form – Warriors coach Kerr

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    Mac Jones was not universally pegged as a first-round pick. Not until the San Francisco 49ers moved up to three, at least.

    Then Kyle Shanahan's reported interest in the Alabama quarterback prompted a reappraisal of his talents.

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    Jones played in all 13 games for Alabama in 2020 as they went 13-0, succeeding Miami Dolphins first-rounder Tua Tagovailoa at the QB position.

    En route to the National Championship, Alabama boasted the outstanding offense in college football.

    Jones threw for 4,500 yards, the most in the FBS, and trailed only Florida's Kyle Trask (43) with his 41 passing touchdowns.

    He also led the FBS in completion percentage. Of his 402 throws, 311 were caught - another high - for an exceptional 77.4 per cent.

    These figures could have been even more impressive, too, with 323 of his balls considered 'catchable'.

    Jones did benefit from playing with the best receiving corps in the game, however.

    DeVonta Smith caught 23 TD passes from 117 receptions for 1,856 yards, yet just 919 yards came through the air, with Smith adding 937 after the catch.

    Jones ranked 44th in the FBS for air yards per attempt at 8.43. Indeed, Jaylen Waddle - who played just six games - averaged 21.1 yards per catch but only 11.0 at the point of reception, his dynamic ability with the ball in his hands significantly boosting Jones' output.

    Trust the system

    At the helm of an excellently designed offense and on a team with elite receiving talent like that possessed by the Crimson Tide, Jones' merits are obvious. That is why he is said to suit the 49ers.

    Jones completed 77.6 per cent of his play-action passes - a staple of the Shanahan scheme - last year, and Shanahan is widely regarded as having an affinity for quarterbacks who can digest his offense and deliver accurately from the pocket.

    Kirk Cousins, drafted during Shanahan's time in Washington, ranks third all-time in the NFL for completion percentage (67.0).

    Atlanta Falcons starter Matt Ryan completed 69.9 per cent of his passes working with Shanahan in the 2016 season en route to an MVP award and a Super Bowl appearance, while the Niners' Jimmy Garoppolo threw at 69.1 per cent in 2019 as they came within minutes of lifting the Lombardi Trophy.

    Fellow draft prospects Zach Wilson (73.5 per cent, third), Justin Fields (70.2, seventh) and Trevor Lawrence (69.2, 10th) joined Jones in the top 10 in the FBS in completion percentage, though.

    Meanwhile, Trey Lance - restricted to a single game last season - ranked fourth in the FCS in 2019 with a mark of 66.9 per cent.

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    The Crimson Tide star led the FBS in completion percentage when blitzed (76.9) and also in red zone completion percentage (75.9). On third down, he ranked fourth, connecting on 71.6 per cent of his passes.

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    Despite his consistency as a thrower, there is a reason Jones was not previously considered a challenger to Wilson, Fields, Lawrence and Lance.

    If the 49ers look elsewhere, Jones could yet fall a long way to find another team confident they have the system and surrounding personnel to make the move worthwhile.

    And even then, few NFL coaches in 2021 are likely to be willing to overlook his shortcomings as an athlete.

    Whereas Wilson, Fields, Lawrence and Lance are set to join the burgeoning ranks of dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL, Jones' playing style is one borne of the soon to be bygone era of the pocket passer.

    At Alabama, where he could palm the ball off to FBS-leading running back Najee Harris, Jones had just 35 carries last year and scored a single rushing touchdown.

    The majority of these runs were short bursts to steal first downs, averaging 0.4 yards per attempt, with a longest carry of 14 yards.

    It is in this area that Jones lags a long way behind the rest.

    Wilson averaged 3.6 yards and scored 10 TDs. Fields played just eight games but had 81 carries, averaging 4.7 yards. Lawrence averaged 3.0 yards and scored eight times.

    In the inferior FCS in 2019, Lance blew each of those performances away. He had 169 carries for 14 TDs at an average of 6.5 yards per carry.

    Without the same ability to open up the game with his legs, Jones would need to be a truly generational talent with his arm.

    Only three NFL signal-callers averaged under 0.4 yards per carry over 10 games last season: Tom Brady (0.2), Drew Brees (-0.1) and Philip Rivers (-0.4).

    Brady and Brees are each in their forties and among the greatest of all time. Brees and Rivers have also both since retired.

    The NFL is eschewing the traditional quarterback in favour of the athletically gifted dual-threats whose skill sets are more conducive to elite production in the modern game. Regardless of where he is selected, Jones is going to have buck that trend to succeed at the highest level.

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