16 Players the Dallas Mavericks gave up on way too soon

Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash
Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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6. Derek Harper

The Mavs drafted Harper 11th overall in 1983. They were entering their fourth season as a franchise and were hungry for their first playoff appearance. Harper backed up Brad Davis in his first two seasons before transitioning into the starter in year three. He just kept getting better, and the Mavericks do not make the conference finals in 1988 without him.

The 6’4 became a Mavericks legend, but even he wanted out as Dallas started a rebuild in the early 1990s. Harp was over 30, and the franchise had quickly become one of the worst in the league. They won 33 games combined in his final two full seasons with the Mavs, and Harper was finally traded to the New York Knicks after a Doc Rivers injury for Tony Cambell’s expiring contract and a first-round draft pick.

The Mavericks legend was 32 years old, but he still had plenty of gas left in the tank as he helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals in 1994 where they lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Houston Rockets. Harper was the starting point guard in New York for two more seasons, and he continued to be a productive contributor to a playoff squad.

Derek Harper returned to the Dallas Mavericks in 1996 as a free agent and was traded one year later to the Orlando Magic. The 6’4 guard retired in 1999 and is currently the TV analyst for the Mavs. The franchise retired his number 12 in 2018. He will forever be a legend, but the team missed out on a few of his best years because of their rebuild.