One of this summer’s most interesting non-superstar free agents, Tobias Harris will get the chance to choose from a bevy of suitors this offseason, as his skill-set – that of a sharpshooting frontcourt player who can score inside and out while filling a multitude of roles – is extremely important in the modern NBA.
Harris is coming off an impressive campaign in which he averaged 20.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.9 triples per contest, slashing 48.7/39.7/86.6 splits in the process, and playing some of the best basketball of his career.
His form took a slight dip in the playoffs, but it wasn’t severe enough to hurt his stock much heading into free agency; teams will still be lining up to pitch Harris on signing with them this summer.
“Tobias Harris, meanwhile, is a native of New York and was intrigued by Philadelphia over the course of this season, dating back to his time with the Clippers. Around the league, executives believe several other teams, such as Memphis, Utah, Dallas and Brooklyn, will also provide competition for Harris.”
The Memphis Grizzlies could very well pull off the surprise by going hard after Harris, but their current timeline doesn’t really lend itself well to heavy spending right now, since they seem on the verge of initiating a full rebuild, so we can cross them off his list of potential suitors for our purposes.
The other four parties listed by Charania, however, including the incumbent Philadelphia 76ers, as well as the Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, all make a ton of sense as landing spots for Harris.
Below, we break down each of those theoretical destinations and what Harris’ fit would look like on each of those teams.
One of the teams mentioned by Charania as being interested in Harris, the Mavericks could form arguably the most accurate sharpshooting frontcourt duo in the league if they do land the seven-year veteran.
Next to Kristaps Porzingis, Harris would space the floor wonderfully and because Dallas has such a solid, deep frontcourt, including players like Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber, he would also get the chance to play a decent amount of small forward, a spot where Harris will be able to use his size and length to finish over smaller wings. According to Synergy Sports, Harris ranked as a “very good” isolation player and a “good” post-up threat, so giving him more burn at the 3-spot would suit the Mavericks well.
Harris would also provide massive value as a spot-up shooter, where he ranked in the 80th percentile last season, an important trait considering budding superstar Luka Doncic will be acting as Dallas’ primary ball-handler for most of the time he’s on the floor.
As of now, it looks like the Mavericks will have somewhere north of $30 million in cap space depending on how much it costs to re-sign Porzingis. Regardless, that should be more than enough to make a competitive offer for Harris.
Another Western-Conference team reportedly interested in Harris this summer is Utah, and with good reason. Although Derrick Favors has done a serviceable job manning the power-forward slot next to Rudy Gobert, the modern NBA requires at least one floor-spacer per frontcourt for offenses to produce at peak form.
If the Jazz go on with their plan to bring Favors back next season, he’s probably best-suited for a role as their full-time backup to Gobert, a role he can dominate, while Utah finds someone else to take over as starting power forward.
Harris is a fantastic candidate for that job.
His ability to knock down the three-ball – Harris is 40.5 percent from deep over his last two seasons – would open up lanes for Donovan Mitchell to attack the basket, as well as room for Gobert to dominate even more as a roller out of pick-and-roll sets. Truth be told, for a team that ranked a mediocre 14th league-wide in offensive rating last season, Harris’ well-rounded scoring would be a welcome addition and probably enough to boost the Jazz into the Top-10, if not higher.
Utah projects to have over $20 million in cap space this offseason, which should get their foot in the door in talks with Harris. Granted, other teams may have more money to throw at Harris, but few can offer him as significant of a role as the Jazz can. There’s a legitimate need there for a stretch-4 who can not just space the floor but create his own shot, and not many teams of Utah’s caliber have starting jobs like that ready and waiting to be taken.
Harris would be wise to at least consider their sales pitch this summer.
Although the Nets may not be quite on the Jazz’s level as far as how close they are to contending, they’re still coming off a strong season in which they made a surprising playoff run, even taking a game from the favored Philadelphia 76es on the road.
Brooklyn has the second-most cap space available out of any team this offseason, and though they’re probably hoping to spend it on Tier-1 free agents like Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, a fallback plan – and it’s unfair to even call him that – like Harris would be a terrific consolation prize.
Not only are the Nets a piece or two away from making the jump to a Top-4 seed in the East, the one area they specifically could use help in is at the 4-spot, a position they were forced to fill with mostly short-term solutions last year (apart from Rodions Kurucs, at least).
That would explain their reported interest in Harris.
His ability to stretch the floor next to a rim-diving beast like Jarrett Allen would fit perfectly with what the Nets need, and his inside-out game would mesh well with stud ball-handlers like D’Angelo Russell (if he re-signs), Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie.
All in all, not only does Brooklyn have the money to make this theoretical marriage viable, Harris would be joining a team clearly on the upswing, and one with a healthy culture that appears built to sustain long-term success. He can’t ask for much more than that in potential suitors.
At Philadelphia’s end-of-year press conference, Harris said he still hadn’t gotten around to thinking about free agency:
Understandable considering the grueling series Harris had just gone through, and the brutal fashion in which the 76ers were eliminated. Still, though, Philadelphia was probably hoping to hear something a little more definitive than that.
To land Harris back in February, the Sixers had to give up not just a very promising young 2-guard in Landry Shamet, but two first-round picks: their own and an unprotected 2021 first-rounder from the Miami Heat, which many around the league consider to be one of the most valuable assets floating around the Association at the moment.
It was a steep price to pay, one that the Sixers undoubtedly remember, so they’ll surely do everything within their power to bring Harris back next season.
Perhaps a max offer from a rival team could scare them off a bit, but even then, Philadelphia should be considered heavy favorites to sign Harris this summer.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.