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When Nico Harrison became the general manager of the Dallas Mavericks in 2021, they were coming off a first-round loss against the Los Angeles Clippers. It wasn't an embarrassing defeat -- the Mavericks were the No. 5 seed and lost in seven games -- but it put them in a tricky spot. Luka Doncic, 22 years old but clearly a superstar already, wanted to compete for championships, and Dallas hadn't won a playoff series since its 2011 title run.

Now the Mavs are back in the NBA Finals, thanks in large part to moves that Harrison's front office has made. As such, they announced on Tuesday, two days before Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, that Harrison has signed a multiyear contract extension 

From the press release:

"Nico Harrison has demonstrated his leadership and capabilities in the Dallas Mavericks organization," stated Dallas Mavericks Governor Patrick Dumont. "His vision, along with his efforts on behalf of our players and staff have propelled our team to two playoff appearances in three seasons and of course this year's NBA Finals. We are proud to have him as part of our team for the long term, and we are excited to watch him continue to build on the foundation of success he has helped establish."

"I am incredibly grateful to Patrick and the entire Dumont and Adelson family for their continued trust and confidence and to Mark for his willingness to hire an unconventional candidate," stated Dallas Mavericks General Manager Nico Harrison. "Patrick and his family have accepted me as their own from day one and I am honored to work alongside them, as well as Jason Kidd, as we continue to build a winning culture in Dallas.'

Dallas' front office has not been perfect during the Harrison era. In 2022, it bungled the Jalen Brunson situation, swung and missed on Christian Wood and made a big and baffling bet on JaVale McGee. The Mavericks deserve credit, though, for building a team that made the conference finals in Harrison and coach Jason Kidd's first season, and then for bouncing back from a terribly disappointing Year 2.

The Mavs moved Kristaps Porzingis in 2022 to create flexibility when they didn't have much of it. They figured that it would be easier to move two medium-sized contracts than one big one. Spencer Dinwiddie, acquired in that trade, ended up being part of their 2023 buy-low trade for Kyrie Irving, who has complemented Doncic as well as they could have possibly hoped.

Grant Williams, acquired in a sign-and-trade last summer, did not fit as well as they had hoped, but they salvaged the situation by trading him (and a future first-round pick) to the Charlotte Hornets for PJ Washington. While the trades for Washington and Daniel Gafford at this year's deadline weren't universally celebrated -- Dallas gave up a first for Gafford, too -- they have transformed the team. The Mavericks recognized that they had the high-end talent to be a legitimate contender, and they were willing to pay -- even overpay, arguably -- for players who could give them the right kind of supporting cast.

If one player on the roster personifies the success of Harrison's front office, it is rookie center Dereck Lively II. Dallas was only in the position to draft him because it missed the playoffs last year, and the franchise's decision to punt the final two games (in an effort to keep the pick) attracted all sorts of negative attention. No one is mad about that anymore, and nobody is calling Lively a long-term project anymore, either. Even if you weren't a fan of every step that led the Mavericks to Lively, you must applaud them for finding him.