Daniels gets six-year deal; Harris signs

Updated: July 2, 2004, 6:35 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- The day after losing Steve Nash, the Dallas Mavericks secured their new backcourt Friday.

Marquis Daniels, a restricted free agent, agreed to a six-year deal worth roughly $38 million and top draft pick Devin Harris signed a contract for at least $7 million over three years.

The duo could take the court together this weekend.

Harris already has joined the Mavericks' summer league team and Daniels was expected to be added in time for exhibition games against China's national team on Saturday night and Sunday. Harris had 15 points in the first game against China on Thursday night.

Harris is coming off a junior season at Wisconsin in which he was named the Big Ten player of the year. He also broke the school's single-season scoring record, previously held by current Mavs star Michael Finley.

Harris was drafted fifth overall by Washington, then dealt to Dallas with Christian Laettner and Jerry Stackhouse in exchange for Antawn Jamison. Details of his salary, which was limited by the league's rookie scale, were not immediately available; however, last year's scale paid the fifth pick $2.2 million in his first season.

The Mavs acquired Harris to be Nash's backup and eventual replacement. The succession plan was speeded up by Nash's decision Thursday to sign with the Phoenix Suns.

About the same time Thursday night that Dallas decided not to try matching Phoenix's offer, they agreed to a deal with Daniels. Nothing can be signed until July 14.

Daniels, who made the league minimum of $366,931 last season after going undrafted out of Auburn, will receive the midlevel exception of around $5 million this season, then have annual raises of 10 percent. The exact figures will be set by the league before July 14, which is the earliest the contract can be signed.

"Once we got what we wanted, from the team we wanted, Marquis said, `Let's get it done,"' agent Glenn Schwartzman said Friday. "This is where his heart is."

Daniels made Dallas' roster in training camp, then started the season near the end of the bench. He became a starter in March and into the playoffs.

By scoring 30 points in three of his 15 regular-season starts, and averaging 15.8 in the playoffs, Daniels turned himself into quite a commodity on the free-agent market.

About a dozen teams called his agent when the negotiating period opened late Wednesday. His suitors included Utah, Denver and three other teams that were well under the salary cap, Schwartzman said.

The Mavericks could've been outbid if a team under the cap exceeded the midlevel figure. But with free agency just starting, no team was willing to break the bank for Daniels just yet.

Not wanting to take any chances, the Mavericks made the maximum offer they could and asked for an immediate answer.

"I think they felt they needed a commitment because they didn't want to lose both Steve and Marquis," Schwartzman said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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