After one season at St. John's, three seasons in Orlando, and one playoff run with Portland, forward Maurice Harkless has cashed in with his first major NBA contract extension. The 15th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft re-signed with the Trail Blazers, 4 years, $40 million-plus, after a period of uncertainty as a restricted free agent.
Other teams were interested in Harkless' services, but the Blazers had the right to match any offer, making his options truly limited.
The Queens, NY native had one of the best seasons of his pro career last year and rebuilt his value, as he averaged 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, shot 47 percent from the field and helped the Blazers advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs. Most importantly, Harkless proved his defensive versatility by guarding numerous positions effectively.
Harkless had a terrific rookie season with the Magic. He averaged a career high 8.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, shot 46 percent from the floor, and blocked 0.8 shots. His minutes drastically decreased in his third season in Orlando (down from 24 per game to 15 per game), and was traded to Portland during the summer of 2015.
The 6'9", 23-year old small forward is officially a part of Portland's core that consists of former Weber State star Damian Lillard, ex-Lehigh shooting guard C.J. McCollum, stretch-four Meyers Leonard and four-year player at Cal, Allen Crabbe.
Harkless (39th in ESPN's top 100) came to St. John's as a member of Steve Lavin's hyped 2011 recruiting class that consisted of D'Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV, Sir'Dominic Pointer, Amir Garrett, God'sgift Achiuwa and Nurideen Lindsey. The small forward dominated high school competition at South Kent and was projected to be an immediate contributor for the Red Storm at the college level.
And he lived up to the hype.
While the Johnnies weren't very good in 2011 (13-19 overall, 6-12 in the Big East), Harkless put up 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He was the best player on the team and used that momentum to depart after one year in Queens.
It may have taken three up-and-down seasons and an impressive display in a contract year to finally gain some security, but the former Johnnie will be in the cold Northwest for years to come.
Greene signs in Italy
Another former Red Storm talent landed a new contract this week, as Phil Greene IV signed with Derthona Basketball in Italy.
In his lone season in Turkey, Greene averaged 18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the team, Bandirma.
The ex-St. John's guard was a four-year contributor under head coach Steve Lavin. He was a core piece, a consistent scorer and a team leader (especially in his final season) for the Johnnies.
Greene, alongside his teammates Harrison, Pointer and Jamal Branch, led the Red Storm to their first NCAA Tournament in 2014-15. While they lost in the first round to San Diego State, it was the program's first appearance in March Madness since Lavin's 2010-11 team that lost in the opening round to Gonzaga.
The 6'2" guard scored 1,243 points in his St. John's career and averaged a career high 13.0 points per game in his senior campaign. He was always a streaky shooter from the perimeter, but he did drastically improve his efficiency from long range and became a more well-rounded player in his final year in school.