10 players the Rockets could add with the mid-level exception

D.J. Augustin #14 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
D.J. Augustin #14 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Joe Harris #12 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

10. Joe Harris

Although Joe Harris is the lowest on this list, it’s not because he presents the least value. Harris could arguably be the biggest difference-maker for the Rockets among all prospective free agents, so he’s certainly not lacking talent.

Harris’ ranking is simply because he could possibly land offers greater than the mid-level exception, as there are many in league circles that believe he could land an annual salary within the $14-17 million range, which is a clear indication of his worth. If the Rockets choose to use the MLE, they’d likely be using the taxpayer exception of $5.7 million, for reasons stated earlier.

But a player such as Harris could realistically command the Rockets’ full $9.2 million, as he’ll have his pick of the litter across the league.

Harris could be tempted by the opportunity to join a legitimate contender on a lesser deal, as opposed to cashing in on a lottery team. The Rockets’ $5.7 million number is around what he’s been making in recent years, as he made $7.1 million in 2019-20 while playing for the Brooklyn Nets.

Contract talks aside, Harris can flat out let it fly from deep, which we know holds value alongside Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who are two of the best shot creators in the league. Harris made at least 40 percent of his 3-pointers dating back to the 2017-18 season, and had the best shooting percentage from deep in the 2018-19 season, as he made 47.4 percent of his threes.

Harris followed that up with a 42.4 percent clip from deep during the 2019-20 season, which ranked seventh-best in the league. Harris has seen his scoring averages improve in each of the last three seasons, as he averaged 10.8 points in 2017-18, followed by 13.7 points in 2018-19, followed by 14.5 points last season.

Harris has also thrived as a reserve, as he made 41.9 percent of his threes coming off the bench in 2017-18, posting a true shooting percentage of 63.4 percent. Harris was a major bright spot in the playoffs, as he was one of only 12 players in the league to average a double-double in the postseason.

The 3-point assassin averaged 16.5 points and 10 rebounds during the 2020 playoffs, while making 58.3 percent of his threes, making him the only player in the entire league to average a double-double while also making 50 percent from long-range.

With Harris’ ability to hit threes at a high clip, he could make for an extremely valuable addition for the Houston Rockets.

Next: No. 9

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