Nuggets agree to contract with Harrington

LAS VEGAS – The Denver Nuggets couldn’t give Al Harrington(notes) more money than the Dallas Mavericks, so they offered him their starting power forward job.

That was enough to convince Harrington to agree to a five-year, $34 million contract to join the Nuggets, league sources said.

The Mavericks were also prepared to give Harrington a five-year, $34 million deal – the maximum allowed using the midlevel exception – and were “real close” to signing him Tuesday afternoon, sources with knowledge of the talks said. But the Nuggets swayed Harrington during a dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel between Denver’s front-office staff and Harrington’s agent, Dan Fegan.

One of the Nuggets’ strongest selling points was that Harrington would be their starting power forward – something the Mavericks couldn’t promise given that All-Star Dirk Nowitzki(notes) plays that position. Kenyon Martin(notes) started at power forward for much of last season for the Nuggets, but is recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee. One league source said Martin was told his recovery is ahead of schedule, but the team has yet to project his return date.

Denver was also helped by the fact that Harrington’s former financial adviser Bret Bearup now works in the Nuggets’ front office. The Nuggets’ brass later celebrated the agreement with Harrington and Fegan at the Bellagio Hotel late Tuesday.

The Nuggets hope Harrington’s signing will help convince All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony(notes) to sign the three-year, $65 million contract extension he’s been offered.

“Appreciate the love and concern. But I’m taking my talents to the Mile High,” Harrington said on his Twitter account.

Harrington’s signing will keep the Nuggets from matching the four-year, $18 million offer sheet forward Linas Kleiza(notes) signed with the Toronto Raptors.

Harrington, 30, averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in 72 games for the New York Knicks last season.

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Updated Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010