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Maurice Harkless made $500,000 because he simply stopped shooting threes

Maurice Harkless

Maurice Harkless

By Henry Bushnell

The Portland Trail Blazers played 13 games between March 14 and April 4, and in all but one of them, Maurice Harkless attempted a 3-pointer. Then, suddenly, during an April 4 game in Utah, Harkless simply stopped. And now we know why: To ensure that he’d pocket $500,000 from a bonus designed, ironically, to reward his shooting.

When Harkless missed a 3-pointer against the Jazz in the Blazers’ fifth-to-last game of the season, his 3-point percentage crept down to 35.05. Another miss would have pushed it below 35, to 34.87. It also would have cost him $500,000. That’s because Harkless’ four-year, $40 million contract includes up to $2 million in incentives, and one of those incentives would be triggered if Harkless, a career 31.5 percent 3-point shooter, shot 35 percent from beyond the arc over the full season.

So Harkless’ ploy? With one more miss possibly costing him the bonus, he abstained from long-range shots. He didn’t attempt another three in the Jazz game. Two days later … no threes in a win over Minnesota. Two days later against the Jazz … still no threes.

Harkless then sat out the penultimate game of the season against San Antonio. Prior to Wednesday night’s finale, he was asked if he’d shoot a three if presented an opportunity. His response: “Would you?”

Of course you wouldn’t. And Harkless didn’t. He made five of his six field goal attempts in a 103-100 loss to the Pelicans, but none of the six attempts came from beyond the arc. And fortunately for Harkless — and probably for all involved — the fifth-year forward exited the game with just over seven minutes to play and didn’t return. He never had to pass up an open three in crunch time.

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