Gary Harris gave Magic a stabilizing force, veteran leadership

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This is the 11th in a series of player capsules from the Orlando Magic’s 2020-21 season:

Gary Harris, guard

Games: 20. Games started: 19.

Per-game averages: 10.2 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.2 turnovers, 25.0 minutes.

Shooting: 36.5% FG, 36.4% 3FG, 87.5% FT

Contract status: Harris completed the third year of a four-year contract extension signed in 2017 after coming to Orlando in a March 25 trade that sent Aaron Gordon to Denver. Harris is set to earn $20.5 million next season.

Top game: April 28 vs. Cavaliers — 19 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks, 0 turnovers, 18.3 Game Score

The buzz: After being traded, Harris missed seven games due to a leg injury before he made his Magic debut on April 9 and played 17 minutes off the bench. Two days later, Harris was in the starting lineup as Orlando continued to shuffle its lineup because of injuries and he remained there for the rest of the season. The leg injury, which sidelined him for 31 games overall, did not appear to bother Harris after his return.

Harris struggled with his shooting consistency. He went 5-for-10 (3-for-4 from 3) in a 115-106 win against the Bulls, then went 0-for-7 the following game in an 11-point loss to the Raptors. He was a combined 10-for-20 (3-for-5 from 3) over his next two games, then was a combined 9-for-34 (4-for-13 from 3) over his next three games. Harris had a 9-for-16 game before going 10-for-30 over his next four. He failed to shoot better than 33% in 10 of his 20 games.

Oddly, Harris’ shooting numbers inside the arc were the problem area. He shot 55.6% on 2-point attempts in 19 games with Denver, but just 36.6% with Orlando.

Still, Harris provided a high level of defense and was a calming presence for a young Magic team. Erstwhile coach Steve Clifford liked how the team functioned with Harris on the floor, especially on offense.

The future: Harris will be the highest paid player among those under contract next season and he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent. His offensive production has fallen off in recent years, but Harris’ contributions go beyond statistics. His impact is as much about the intangibles he brings as anything else. Harris was beloved in Denver as a teammate and he’s already made an impression in the Orlando locker room, with Clifford having raved about the veteran guard’s leadership on more than one occasion.

Harris is arguably the team’s most polished two-way player, but the Magic will need more from a player making $20 million. That begins with Harris reversing his downward trend on offense. Orlando could get the best of both worlds from Harris: a high-level two-way player who also serves as a mentor for the team’s youthful core.

Still, Harris is headed toward free agency and he could take minutes away from younger players. Those circumstances could push the Magic to seek out a trade for Harris, who will turn 27 in September.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Roy Parry at rparry@orlandosentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @osroyparry