Storyline: Tobias Harris Free Agency

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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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As a pending free agent himself, however, Green acknowledged that it’s difficult to be definitive about anything else until Leonard decides whether to stay or go. “I don’t know,” Green said, insisting that he has no insider intel on Leonard’s plans even though they played together in San Antonio and became Raptors together when the Spurs dispatched them to Canada via trade on July 18, 2018. “He may not know, but I don’t know, either. I’m probably more confused or more up in the air than he is.”