On Wednesday, Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless was posed with a half-million dollar question: To shoot or not to shoot.
Harkless this summer signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Blazers that had up to $2 million in incentives built into the contract. One of the incentives was $500,000 for finishing the season shooting 35 percent or better from three-point range.
Entering Wednesday’s regular-season finale against New Orleans, Harkless had made 68 of 194 attempts, or 35.1 percent. If he missed one shot he would be at 34.8 percent.
Before Wednesday’s game, Harkless was asked if he would even attempt a three-pointer?
“Would you?’’ he said with a smile.
But what if the game was on the line, and the Blazers needed a three?
“Then I would pump fake and try to get fouled,’’ Harkless said, chuckling.
Much of Harkless’ decision came because the Blazers’ final game was meaningless. Portland clinched the eighth and final playoff spot on Sunday, and in Monday’s penultimate game, he was one of three Blazers players who rested.
Normally a starter, Harkless came off the bench on Wednesday and through the first half had seven points on 3-of-4 shooting – all two-point attempts.
Harkless said he has been aware of the bonus for roughly the past month after playing much of the season thinking the magic number was 37 percent from three-point range.
“I was flirting with 36.5 for a while, but then somebody told me it was 35,’’ Harkless said. “And I said, ‘I’ll be good then.’’’
Since March 1, Harkless saw a marked drop off in three-point attempts. After attempting nearly three a game leading up to March, Harkless since then went 10-for-30 over the last 21 games. His bonus-clinching night came April 3 at Minnesota, when he made 3-of-5.
In his fifth NBA season, Harkless entered this season as a career 30 percent shooter from three-point range, with a career high of 38.3 percent his second season in Orlando. Last season in Portland, he was 39-of-140 (27.9 percent).
Harkless said he doesn’t have any specific plans for the bonus.