When the NBA D-League announced its All-Star teams on Monday, the initial squads included a bevy of (NBA) players no longer on assignment in the minor league, and/or other young guns who have since been called up to The Association.
One of those very players happened to be top notch scoring guard Manny Harris, who at the time of the announcement, was finishing up his second ten-day contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. With a formal decision as to whether or not to retain him for the rest of the season looming, the team informed Harris the following day (Tuesday) that his time with the Lakers would come to an end following that night's game against the Timberwolves after his current deal expired.
Ironically enough, the offensive juggernaut went out with a bang, logging season-highs of 19 points and 8 rebounds in his swan song against Minnesota. What's more, he shot 8 of 11 in just 21 minutes of play. Such efficiency is what many on the D-League level have come to expect from Harris, so to see him break out such prowess wasn't much of a surprise at all.
Still, such a scoring outburst from the 24 year old was not enough to save him from the inevitable. An injury to Jodie Meeks during the game certainly didn't hurt Harris' cause, but in the end, such a development proved to be of no help either.
The fact of the matter remains that despite Meeks' injury, the Lakers are receiving boosts from the likes of Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jordan Farmar (not to mention, perhaps Kobe Bryant not long after) as they return from respective injuries of their own.
The returns of such notable players may have made minutes difficult for Harris to come by, even considering the fact that since joining the team, Harris had never once played fewer than 18 minutes through nine contests. Over the last two weeks plus, the young gun had certainly done his part to provide the Lakers with an injection of life they were desperately in need of.
As the team's veterans return, Los Angeles may no longer need to look to Harris as a lifeline. What's more, the Lakers' continued struggles make them quite a vulnerable squad. With that in mind, the flexibility of having an open roster spot to fill with whatever the situation calls for as the weeks go on could prove to be a plus.
Thus, that makes Harris the odd man out. His young age, immense amount of potential, and ability to pour in the points with ease, all seem to still work in his favor. Perhaps this just isn't his time to shine in purple and gold. Instead, it would appear the man otherwise known as the "Michigan Mamba" will return to the D-Fenders in time to embrace his recently awarded NBADL All-Star status.
Through his nine games with the Lakers, Harris averaged 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds, but did so while shooting a modest 40% from the field. He wasn't the most consistent of shooters, but as a player thrust into a situation like his, who could ask for much more?
Such a release could still prove to bite the Lakers in the butt. This may not be the right time, but with his latest exposure on the NBA stage, perhaps Harris intrigued another team or two enough to believe his time (with their team, instead) is actually now.