Moe Harkless was the 15th pick in the 2012 draft. In his first two seasons with the Orlando Magic he started on the wing over half of the games; with 100 starts in 156 games over two seasons all before he turned 21 years old. This season Harkless quickly fell out of favor in the rotation of doomed head coach Jacque Vaughn, logging just one start and 373 minutes played.
Young promising players like Tobias Harris (a tweener forward logging minutes at both spots), Aaron Gordon (similar to Harris), Victor Oladipo, and Elfird Payton along with veterans Ben Gordon and Willie Green have pushed Harkless out of the rotation. The coaching staff tried to straddle the line between development of young players and winning with competent veterans. Effectively they accomplished neither and now Vaughn is unemployed.
The Orlando Magic are an interesting team without a firm identity. Fox Sports Florida say the offensive identity is lacking. Orlando Magic Daily points out the defense does not have one either. Unsurprisingly, Harkless is now apparently on the market.
A player the Magic are willing to deal for mininmal return, I'm told, is forward Moe Harkless, whose minutes have dropped each season w/ORL.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) February 17, 2015
Defining a "minimal return" is an interesting dilemma. Could the Pelicans snag Harkless for John Salmons (and his expiring contract) and that second round pick from Memphis? That seems an awfully low price, but Dell Demps should ask, right?
Reasons to Trade for Harkless
If the price is indeed low there is no reason for the Pelicans not to pursue Harkless. He does not turn 22 until May 11th. Harkless is nearly 6'9" with a 7'0" wingspan and a 37" vertical leap according to Draft Express. Did I mention he does not turn 22 until this coming May?
Of course, there is also the money involved. Harkless is due nearly $2.9 million next season, the final year of his rookie contract. Then, to maintain his restricted free agent rights, the qualifying offer in the summer of 2016 is a mere $4 Million.
While Harkless has struggled with his shot this season, shooting just 15.6% behind the arc (on a total of 32 attempts) he has improved by leaps and bounds every year inside the arc, where he is converting 58.8% this season (on just 51 attempts). The sample size is minuscule with Harkless this season. Still, he has already converted 14 dunks, more than Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter, and Eric Gordon combined (13).
He's also a relatively low usage player (15.9% as a rookie was his career high) so he does not expect to have the ball in his hands often. His upside is Al-Farouq Aminu with a jump shot. How can't you love that?
Reasons Not to Trade for Harkless
He's been benched on a team that is not any good. Sample size be damned, his shooting has fallen off a cliff behind the arc. On his NBA career he is shooting just 59.4% from the free throw line, not a promising number whatsoever. The initial reports just last month on the cost to obtain Harkless included a first round pick according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
A few teams have been at the Orlando Magic on swingman Maurice Harkless, but are finding the asking price on Orlando’s side to be steep. Harkless is not playing a huge role in Orlando and was inactive for a stretch of games before injuries hit the roster. There was a sense from other teams that he could be pried loose on the cheap. Word is Orlando is asking for a first-round pick to even open a discussion, which has sort of killed momentum. Magic sources continue to say Orlando sees no urgency in selling off roster parts, especially with the roster being a little banged up and so much uncertainty surrounding forward Aaron Gordon and the pending free agent status of Tobias Harris. Things can always change at the trade deadline, however at least for now it seems like Orlando’s price tag may be too high to make a deal.
While adding another young wing to the rotation made sense once, with the arrival of Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter at this point it is less feasible. It is doubtful Harkless would find a spot in the rotation until the summer at the earliest, assuming Cunningham moves to greener pastures. Both the Bi-Annual and Mid-Level Exceptions remain for New Orleans to get a piece more ready for immediate results in the free agent market.
Let's hear from you in the comments. Should the Pelicans trade for another developmental player at this point if the cost is bargain basement?