Extension Unlikely For Tobias Harris, Magic

OCTOBER 31ST: The Harris camp has tried to revive talks, but the Magic aren’t biting, according to Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link).

OCTOBER 28TH: The Magic made an offer to Harris last month and the two sides haven’t engaged in talks since, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).  Things can always change, but Kennedy says it’s unlikely that they will and Harris appears headed for restricted free agency (link).

OCTOBER 24TH, 5:31pm: The league doesn’t permit financial incentives in outside endorsement contracts that pertain to playing for specific teams, but it does allow for bonuses tied to the number of national television appearances a player makes, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders clarifies (Twitter link). Large-market teams usually show up more often on national TV than their small-market counterparts, though the quality of the on-court product has recently proven more influential than market size in network programming decisions.

1:19pm: Tobias Harris is eligible for a rookie scale extension with the Magic, but he doesn’t intend to sign one before the deadline to do so a week from today, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The forward’s deal with Nike gives him an “upgrade” if he’s playing for a team in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, according to Broussard. Harris is set for restricted free agency in the summer assuming he doesn’t sign an extension.

Harris nonetheless said recently he wanted to remain in Orlando, and Magic GM Rob Hennigan has indicated his preference to do an extension. The Henry Thomas client and the team were reportedly still in talks as of a week ago, shortly before the Magic struck a deal with fellow extension-eligible Nikola Vucevic. Hennigan said earlier this month that he couldn’t imagine the club not holding on to the 22-year-old, and Orlando will have the right to match all offers should Harris hit restricted free agency.

Vucevic’s extension pushed the Magic’s commitments for 2015/16 to about $26.1MM, though Orlando is about to add nearly $12.755MM in rookie scale team options to that figure. Still, that’s plenty of room beneath a projected $66.5MM salary cap for a Harris extension. The math gets trickier in the future, since the Magic have six players still within the first three seasons of their rookie scale contracts. Orlando’s payroll probably would escalate quite a bit if it were to retain all or most of them, forcing the team to make difficult decisions. Drastic rises in the cap tied to the league’s new $24 billion TV deal that starts in 2016 will help ease that blow, however.

I predicted in July that Harris and the Magic wouldn’t reach an extension, explaining as I looked at his extension candidacy that the team figured to prioritize flexibility and a commitment to Vucevic, who plays at a position of greater scarcity. It appears instead that the primary resistance to a deal is coming from the player rather than the Magic. The Knicks and Lakers are nonetheless the only teams set up for significant cap room next summer among the clubs that would presumably trigger the clauses in Harris’ shoe deal, and he’s not alone among potential targets for those franchises.

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