Storyline: Tobias Harris Free Agency

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The Knicks are not expected to chase after top-of-the-market free agents, though some, like Kemba Walker and Nikola Vucevic reportedly already have agreements in place. They never showed enough interest in Tobias Harris be considered for a meeting with him, a league source told The Athletic. They are expected to shift their focus to short-term deals to improve a barren roster and attempt to be more competitive in 2019-20, without compromising their cap room in the long-term.

The Nets are expected to meet with free agent forward Tobias Harris and also have DeAndre Jordan and Justin Holiday among the free agents on their radar, league sources told The Athletic. Harris embodies everything the Brooklyn Nets desire on and off the court. The Long Island native is a multi-positional player who can score in pick-and-roll sets and spread the floor on offense. On defense, he’s an above-average rebounder. In the locker room, Harris is coachable and has adapted to several roles while playing for five teams in his eight-year career. He comes in early and stays late in the gym.

The Dallas Mavericks are among a handful of summer suitors who are interested in forward Tobias Harris — but at a rate below his max, two NBA sources tell DallasBasketball.com. Additionally, the sources say his present employer, the Philadelphia Sixers, are confident they will retain the much-traveled Harris, who this year averaged 20 points and 7.9 boards in the regular season, both career-highs, shot 39.7 from 3-point range and served as a go-to guy on a contending Sixers team.

The Nets and free agent forward Tobias Harris have mutual free agent interest in each other, league sources told The Athletic. Harris represents a fit at power forward, where Brooklyn shuffled four players last season. Harris, who turns 27 on July 15, fits the age trajectory of Brooklyn’s young core, provides offensive versatility as a playmaking four in pick-and-roll sets and as a shooter, and fits Brooklyn’s culture as a well-regarded teammate over his career.

Tobias Harris an option for Utah?

Does this mean the Jazz are likely to lure an impact player? That remains to be seen. But, it does mean they at least have a fighting chance. One player who has interest, according to sources: Tobias Harris. Harris is a 6-foot-9 combination forward who currently plays in Philadelphia. He’s someone who is dynamic on or off the basketball. He can shoot from the perimeter. He can score in a variety of ways. The Sixers hold his Bird Rights and can offer him a full five-year max contract. But, if they don’t, and Harris looks around, the Jazz would have at least a fighting chance, league sources tell The Athletic.

One source close to Harris’ camp explained how Tobias likes his role in Philadelphia, but the idea of returning home is something he will likely consider this summer. Other names have been mentioned, such as Jimmy Butler, who put the Nets atop his list of destinations when demanding a trade out of Minnesota. Similar to Tobias, a source close to Kemba Walker said the star point guard is intrigued by the idea of coming back to play in his home state — including both the Knicks and Nets.

Josh Harris told us last week that the Sixers want to keep both Tobias Harris and Butler because players of that caliber are difficult to acquire. He’s right. The franchise learned that difficult lesson last offseason when they had oodles of cap space but no high-level free agents to ladle it out to. Retaining Harris and Butler would zoom them deep into the luxury tax for the foreseeable future and handicap how the Sixers can fill out the rest of the roster—especially because Simmons will soon be in line to sign an extension. That would be a lot of money wrapped up in four players. “We get it,” Harris stipulated. “It’s expensive.”

I know there was a feeling for you that you wanted to win in L.A. And now you’re here. Does the mindset carry over to staying with this current organization — and trying to win? Tobias Harris: It would be selfish of me to not come into this situation with an open mind to make this work for the long-term. That’s where my mindset is at. I’m a loyal guy to where I am, and if I feel that loyalty back, that is how I operate. For me, it’s just making it work here and figuring out how it will go. So far, it’s been really good. Gotta show that loyalty.

In a contract season, the Long Island native admitted he’s heard from Clippers fans and opposing fans regarding free agency at games. However, earning a maximum contract isn’t what’s motivating him to reach new heights in his game this season. “I think it’s more motivation just on myself of trying to really unlock another level of my own play and try to help our team get to the playoffs,” Harris said. “That’s where I put all my motivation. I don’t worry about what’s to come in the future. Honestly, I just worry about pretty much the present moment and how I can help our team. I’ve been a free agent before, and I took the same approach, and I felt a good rhythm when I focused on the team and focused on winning and focused on controlling how I could get better every single day, and that’s how I approach everything I do.”

That is why when the Clippers approached Harris with a four-year, $80 million extension in late July, he and his father had to think long and hard about accepting the deal. This was the type of long-term investment they had been looking for since Harris entered the league. The Clippers have been deliberately calculated with their long-term spending since last summer, saving cap space for the 2019 offseason and potentially even 2020. But the franchise decided that offering Harris a contract with an annual value of $20 million per season — which would be a sizable hit to their cap space — was a worthy investment. It’s All-Star-level money for a player that has yet to make an All-Star team.

“For myself and my representation, we looked at it. We did really process it to make that decision,” Harris said. “At the end of the day, it is $80 million. But for me, it’s more of going out and earning what my value is. It has nothing to do with me figuring out what the Clippers are doing or things like that. “No, I love the whole organization. I love the team. I hope this relationship that we have is long-lasting. But it’s more of just on myself as a player, just pushing myself to see where I’m at at the end of the year. And we’ll go from there. That’s where it was. Both sides, we talked about it and both sides had really good dialogue on that. So it wasn’t nothing. We really were thankful that offer was there.”

“I’m happy and excited,” Harris told the Orlando Sentinel late Friday night from his family’s home on Long Island. “It’s still surreal for me. I just think back when I first came to the NBA, and I wanted to just really be here for more than four years. You know, that’s the average expectancy as an NBA player. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be in Orlando, to get an opportunity where I can showcase my game and be on a great team with great teammates and a great organization. So it’s a true blessing. It really is.”
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“Zion is not on their injury report,” said Brian Windhorst on his podcast. “They are treating him as though he’s coming back from an injury, but he’s not on their injury report. I cannot make an assumption as to what’s going on there. When you watch him play, he clearly is not in condition to compete at the highest level. As I’ve watched him play two games, I don’t actually think they should have played him at all with the way he’s playing. I talked to a scout who said to me he shouldn’t be out there right now with the condition he is in. He said to me, ‘He’s moving worse than he did in Summer League last summer when he got hurt in his first or second game.’ “I don’t know if that’s because he’s out of condition, or that’s because he’s got something that they’re not discussing. This is one of the things that the Pelicans have to deal with… this is a guy who has a history of knee injuries and is not right either because of conditioning or because of something else.”
Williamson was gone from the Pelicans for over a week and then was under quarantine for a few days when he returned to Orlando. “He does not look right,” said Kirk Goldsberry. “It does not look good. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say he shouldn’t be out there because I don’t know… Something smells fishy here. I don’t know what’s going on. He does not look like the kid that was dominating the league in March.”
Now that the Wizards have lost their first two games at Disney World, that rule is coming back into the forefront. The Wizards are currently tied in the loss column with the Hornets, who aren’t in Orlando but are locked in with the eighth-best lottery odds. What that means is if the Wizards continue to lose, they can’t gain more ping-pong balls for lottery night, which is set for Aug. 25. And now there is a distinct possibility they could have worse odds than a team with a better win percentage than them.
Storyline: Draft Lottery
It would be a cruel twist for the Wizards, who need as much help as they can get in this year’s draft as they hope to find another blue chip prospect to add to their burgeoning young core. Making that pick count is especially important given their salary cap situation with John Wall and Bradley Beal on the books, which has left them with fewer resources to work with. They could get another key rotation player on a rookie contract. The good news is that the lottery rules were changed more permanently before last year’s drawing in order to create more parity in the annual event. It smoothed out the odds to discourage tanking and the results in its first year were as-intended.
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Zalgiris big man Jock Landale will be playing in a different team next season. With the request of the player, Jock Landale and Zalgiris have mutually agreed to part ways, as the Aussie continues to seek out his dream of playing in the NBA. A member of the Australian men’s national team signed a deal with Zalgiris last summer and had a running contract for next season. After the two sides reached an agreement, the 24-year-old addressed the fans and the Zalgiris organization. “I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for everything you’ve done for the past year. It was such an incredible experience coming to Lithuania and playing for such a historic club and a legendary coach. To the organization, I appreciate what you guys have done. Everyone’s got goals and ambitions, and you really helped me reach mine. You’ve got a fan in me for life.”
Storyline: Jock Landale Free Agency
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While watching Sunday night’s box-office affair between the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks, perhaps the saying speaks more to the mental exercise of what it takes to play defense and get stops. “Heart and will,” James Harden said. “Everybody says we’re undersized — and they got a couple of offensive rebounds on us just cause they have 7-footers and whatnot — but you gotta just keep fighting, keep fighting. Once we get that ball, we’re out, so it just takes good spirit, fighting and making sure we’re communicating defensively and in our right positions.”
Westbrook finished with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but it’s more important to note how he kept Houston afloat while Harden sat with foul trouble. He constantly put pressure on the Bucks’ defense, forcing them to concede open shots to Green, Tucker, Ben McLemore, and others. In addition, it seemed like him and Harden struck a good balance of when to attack versus when to move the ball and look for others. When Harden struggles offensively, Westbrook is more than capable of picking up the slack. “Yeah, I think we’re comfortable now,” Harden said of the pair’s chemistry. “I think with that training camp, we’re in a good place. We found ourselves.”
Storyline: Harden-Westbrook Dynamic
“We loaded up,” House explained. “We talked. The most important thing was to stop him before he got downhill, of course. We did a good job about locating him before he could get the ball or even after he got the ball to make sure that we were on the help side and that guys were already communicating with one another. That’s been a big help and a big factor for us — communication on defense. So we don’t have those “my bad” moments.” “Very important,” Harden added on their late-game defense. “I think throughout the course of the game we played some really good defense. Obviously, they’re a really good offensive team, but throughout the course of the game we got stops when we needed to.”
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