Joe Harris Injury Update Makes the Nets Appreciate Their $16.7 Million Saving Grace

There is good news for the 32-32 Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant has made his long-awaited comeback from an MCL sprain while Kyrie Irving inches closer toward becoming a full-time player. The bad news is that neither player will be joined by Ben Simmons or Joe Harris anytime soon.

Simmons, the three-time All-Star acquired in the James Harden deal, doesn’t have a return date as he manages a sore back. That was also the case with Harris for many weeks, but now the sharpshooter’s status has been updated … and it’s not good.

Fortunately, the Simmons trade has born fruit, even though it hasn’t come from the star guard himself.

Joe Harris’ season has come to an end

The 30-year-old Harris was expected to play a major role for a Nets team looking to avenge its second-round playoff loss from last season. Yet in his 14th game, the eighth-year vet suffered an ankle injury that required arthroscopic surgery.

Initially, the sharpshooter was expected to return just four to eight weeks after the surgery. But numerous setbacks kept moving the goalposts further back. Finally, General Manager Sean Marks confirmed the worst when asked about the Harris’ status on Wednesday afternoon (h/t: YES Network).

“Unfortunately, it’s been determined in the last 24 hours that he’s going to have to have season-ending surgery, which we’ll follow up in the next week or two. We feel terrible for Joe. We know how much he means to this group, but he’ll be on the sidelines cheering us on.”

Sean Marks

Soon after Marks’ announcement, Harris’ agent Mark Bartelstein told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that the Nets star will officially miss the next four to six months. Fortunately, he is expected to make a 100% recovery ahead of the start of next season.

While Brooklyn has navigated through the majority of the season without Harris, his loss stings. The former Virginia Cavalier is a two-time leader in three-point percentage, shooting a whopping 47.5% from beyond the arc last season. Through 14 games this season, he was hitting an impressive 46.6% on 6.3 long-range attempts.

The Nets are also paying Harris like he’s a vital piece of the puzzle. Following his career-high scoring season in 2019-20, the 6-foot-6 shooter inked a four-year, $75 million pact that pays him $17.3 million this season.

Seth Curry will help overcome the loss of Harris

When the Nets pulled off the Harden-for-Simmons blockbuster at the trade deadline, the focus was understandably on the top pick from 2016. But Simmons was joined by a pair of Philadelphia 76ers teammates — center Andre Drummond and guard Seth Curry, the latter of whom will play a vital part in filling the void left by Harris’ absence.

If Joe Harris is considered the top three-point shooter in the game, the younger Curry isn’t too far off. Steph’s brother is a career 43.7% shooter from beyond the arc across his eight NBA seasons. While he only hit 40.0% of his threes with Philly this year, Curry is already drilling 44.4% of his 6.8 three-point attempts with Brooklyn.

Since debuting on Valentine’s Day, Curry has started all eight games for the .500 Nets. With Durant absent in all but one of them and Irving ineligible for the majority of them, the 6-foot-2 guard has scored double-digit points seven times with at least two threes each night. He’s also scored 20 points or more three times, including a 23-point clinic in his Brooklyn debut.

Even when Durant and Irving are starting together again, Curry will be right there as the catch-and-shoot threat Harris previously was. And he’ll do so for a fraction of Joe’s cost, as the 31-year-old is making a combined $16.7 million this year and next.

The Nets might actually have a postseason advantage with Seth Curry over Joe Harris

One big reason Brooklyn came up short last postseason was because of Harris’ sudden inability to shoot. In Games 3 through 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks, the 6-6 forward went just 8-of-33 from beyond the arc, good for a paltry 24.2%.

It’s also not the first time Harris has struggled on a playoff stage. In Brooklyn’s five-game loss to the Sixers in 2019, the sharpshooter hit one out of 17 attempts from distance. Before that series, he led the regular season with a 47.4% three-point rate.

The point is, there are a few critical examples of Harris failing to deliver on the biggest stage. As for Curry, the newest Net has thrived in pressure situations.

In 34 games across three postseasons, Curry shot 46.8% from three. His best performance came last season with Philly, shooting 50.6% on 6.8 three-point attempts in 12 games. He also shot 50.0% or better from the field in all seven second-round games against the Atlanta Hawks, including his 36-point outburst in Game 5.

Granted, Harris started the bulk of his postseason games while Curry didn’t start until last season. But it’s pretty clear that the former Duke star is better equipped for the big spots than the forward currently on the sidelines.

Ultimately, that could be the difference-maker for a Nets squad hungry for a championship.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference and contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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