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Utah Jazz: Team defends Harris amid trade rumor speculation

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 1:29 p.m. MST

And he doesn't always have the spunk, occasional flair or visible leadership displayed by his backup (Watson), either.

On top of that, ESPN's Marc Stein reported that his "reliable rumblings" indicate the Jazz are offering Harris up on the trade market.

"Not exactly leaping onto a limb to suggest Harris' TNT performance against his old friends from Dallas won't have phones buzzing in the SLC," Stein tweeted. "Yet I'm told Jazz will keep shopping him and they'll eventually find taker for Devin. PG is only 28 and has just one year left at $8.5M."

Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe listed Harris among the NBA's underperforming players, writing, "Harris is just lost in Utah, reduced to managing a post-heavy offense that demands floor spacing he cannot provide."

Earlier this week, though, Harris seemed to be on the verge of breaking through and commended Jazz team chemistry.

"We're building a team camaraderie," he said.

While his team sticks together — including with Harris — some outsiders are clamoring for Watson to be inserted into the starting lineup to see what he can do with the first five instead of primarily with the young guns off the bench.

Watson didn't try to take over the starting position last season when Harris was traded to the Jazz as part of the Deron Williams deal, and he isn't going down that road now.

Like the rest of the Jazz family, Watson has Harris' back.

"I don't think no one takes losing OK. Dev wants to win. He wants to contribute on a big level and we've just got to support him," the 10-year veteran Watson said. "Everyone's path is different. We're all trying to get to the same destination. We're all together as a unit, so we have to support each other no matter what."

Even so, the Jazz own a valuable $10.8 million trade exception, and they have two steady experienced points on their roster behind Harris. Having a capable guy like Jamaal Tinsley on the bench seems to give Utah a decent No. 2 option should Harris be dealt. Tinsley has played sparingly this season after being out of the NBA last year.

Neither Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor nor Harris' agent were able to be reached for comment.

As for comparisons to gaudy assist numbers put up by Stockton and Williams, Corbin said things have changed somewhat. The Jazz swing the ball around with their other backcourt guys more (Gordon Hayward, for instance, averages 3.1 assists), so he doesn't view it as a big deal if Harris isn't averaging double-digit dimes.

"He won't dominate the ball as much," Corbin said. "We've got different guys in different spots. Our perimeter guys and our twos and threes are handling the ball some, so the pass that leads to the score is not necessarily always on the point guard."

Harris' teammates understand that, too.

"We play a style of ball that's kind of a throwback," Bell said. "We do a lot of stuff inside-out, and for guards like Dev who are used to having the ball and used to having a lot of touches and opportunities, it can be hard to find your way within that."

Bell's advice for his backcourt buddy:

"I just tell him to stay aggressive, and when his opportunities are there, take them and try to make the most of them, try to find ways to get involved in transition. You've got to keep pressing. You've got to keep looking for it."

In the meantime, Harris' locker room family will continue looking after him.

Email: jody@desnews.comTwitter: DJJazzyJody

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