Tobias Harris

L.A. Notes: Harris, Expiring Contracts, Magic Johnson

The Clippers acknowledge the decision to trade away Tobias Harris was difficult, but they believe it was necessary to build the perennial title contender they envision, writes Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. Harris was sent to the Sixers last week in exchange for some assets — rookie guard Landry Shamet and a package of draft picks — that could be used to acquire another star, possibly Pelicans center Anthony Davis. They also hope to open enough cap space for two max offers in free agency with an eye on building the NBA’s next super team.

“I mean, it really stinks because you love the guy and what he means to the team,” president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said about losing Harris. “But what you have to do, you have to fast-forward and close your eyes and visualize. In order to build a sustainable championship contender, there are going to have to be some really hard and tough decisions to be made.”

Owner Steve Ballmer has instructed Frank and team consultant Jerry West to build for the future without sacrificing this season. The Clippers entered the All-Star break eighth in the West at 32-27 and remain confident they can make the playoffs without Harris.

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers were active at the trade deadline, but because they brought in so many players with expiring contracts, another roster shakeup is likely in the offseason, notes Dan Feldman of NBC SportsIvica ZubacJaMychal GreenGarrett Temple and Wilson Chandler all have expiring contracts and may not return next season, depending how successful the organization is in free agency.
  • Lakers president Magic Johnson believes the NBA has a different tampering standard for him than the rest of the league. In a video clip tweeted by Carolina Blitz, Johnson refuses to comment about the possibility of signing Kemba Walker this summer. “You know I can’t answer any questions about no players because every time I do it, I get fined, but anybody else do it, they don’t get fined, so I’m going to stay away from that,” Johnson said.
  • In the wake of their failed attempt to land Davis, the Lakers have a leadership gap that has to be addressed by Johnson, GM Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and LeBron James, writes Andy Kamenetzky of The Athletic.

Sixers Notes: Brand, Harris, Embiid, Milton

Since taking over as the Sixers‘ general manager during the 2018 offseason, first-time GM Elton Brand has taken a pair of huge swings, completing separate trades for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. The team’s aggressive approach to collecting talent stands in stark contrast to the slow, deliberate “Process” of the last few years, but as Michael Lee of The Athletic writes, the 76ers believe the time is right to start going all-in in search of a title.

“I think our window is now,” principal owner Josh Harris said. “I hope that we’re a championship contending team. What we’ve said is that we want to advance further in the playoffs, for sure and we’re going to try our hardest to be a championship contending team this year. Obviously, that’s what everybody wants to do, but I think we’re positioned with enough talent to do that.”

While those blockbuster trade represented a new approach to roster-building for the Sixers, they didn’t necessarily come as a huge surprise, since Brand has talked throughout his tenure about the club’s window opening due to the rapid growth of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

“Our opportunity is now,” Brand said, per Lee. “Who knows how long this window is going to be open?”

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Tobias Harris has fit in nicely with the Sixers through his first few games in Philadelphia, and spoke about his smooth transition, as Lee relays in the piece linked above: “I’m pretty smart. I pretty much knew a lot of what they ran before getting here. I just look forward to being a sponge, soak everything and get as much info as possible. It’s the same approach, but also, getting your mind right helping a team, being able to do something that they’ve been wanting to do for some time now. So it’s expectations, but you’ve got to keep working everyday and build towards that.”
  • After sharply criticizing the officiating in Tuesday’s game against Boston, Joel Embiid was hit with a $25K fine on Wednesday, the league announced (link via ESPN.com). Embiid concluded his post-game podium appearance on Tuesday night by declaring, “The referees f—ing suck,” an apparent reference to a play in the final minute when he was hit across the arm by Al Horford and no foul was called.
  • Rookie guard Shake Milton, who is on a two-way contract with the 76ers, underwent surgery this week to repair a fracture in his right hand, the club announced in a press release. Milton has only appeared in 13 games so far for Philadelphia this season, so his absence won’t impact the team’s rotation. He’ll be re-evaluated in about two or three weeks.

Atlantic Notes: Brand, Nets, Atkinson, Irving

After years and years of asset collection and patience being the primary focus of the Sixers‘ plans, Elton Brand has dramatically changed the team’s course of action in a few months. First it was trading for Jimmy Butler. Then this past week, Brand took it to another level by trading several future assets for Tobias Harris, effectively creating a “big four” in Philadelphia.

These moves were made because Brand’s mindset is that the Sixers are in a position to contend for a championship right now. As Brian Seltzer writes for the 76ers’ team website, Brand is acting with a sense of urgency and focus on building a true championship team this season.

Should the 76ers re-sign both Harris and Butler, the team would instantly become one of the more expensive in the league, but Brand should be satisfied with the group of talent he has assembled for the foreseeable future.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

Sixers Notes: Harris, Brand, Fultz

The Sixers added another star at the trade deadline in Tobias Harris and the 26-year-old is thrilled to be in Philadelphia.

“It was awesome,” Harris said of playing alongside new teammates (via ESPN’s Tim Bontempts).“In all seriousness, you couldn’t ask for anything more. Me personally, I’m just sitting here like, ‘Wow.’ … It was fun.”

The Sixers sacrificed depth over the past few months in order to put together a lineup of Harris, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, and Joel Embiid. The lineup showed its potential in Friday night’s win over the Nuggets where it went on a 14-7 over the last four minutes to close out the game.

“It was funny … after the game, somebody texted me and sent me a video of me smiling after a play,” Harris said. “They wrote, ‘This is literally the first time I’ve ever seen you actually smile in a game.’ And I was like, ‘You ain’t lying.”

“It was cool to see that and just have fun out there. I really had a lot of fun tonight.”

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • GM Elton Brand said he’s received “all assurances” from the Sixers’ ownership that the team can re-sign both Harris and Butler, Bontemps tweets.“We’re all on board to keep this core together long-term,” Brand said.
  • By trading for Butler and Harris, the Sixers were no longer in position to be patient with Markelle Fultz, Bontemps explains in a separate piece. The team is built to win now and that, coupled with Fultz’s salary, which will come in at nearly $9.75MM next season, made it time to move on.
  • Brand reiterated that the Sixers are focused on the present, Bontemps passes along in another piece. The GM said the team had been targeting Harris “if he became available” and the team had “coveted” him for a while. “We know he fits great into our system and he’ll do well,” Brand said of Harris. “[Simmons and Embiid] rapidly improved over the last season, so the window is now. The opportunity is now. So, once I saw that, we discussed taking a shot at it now, because who knows how long that window is going to be open?”
  • Prior to Friday’s night win, Harris said he’s hopeful his time with Sixers can be a “long-term partnership,” per an Associated Press report (via NBC Sports). Boban Marjanovic, who was also acquired in the Harris deal, explained how the 76ers’ gumption inspired him and Harris.“We understand the team invested a lot in us,” the center said. “It was a big move. It was a win-now move. That means a lot. This is already a winning culture and we look to bring our games to it and help as best we can.”

The Deadline Deals That Didn’t Happen

The Raptors were close to acquiring Nikola Mirotic, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports on his podcast. The power forward would have been part of a three-team trade with the Pelicans and Magic in the proposed framework. Toronto didn’t have the expiring contracts that New Orleans was seeking and Mirotic was instead sent to the Bucks.

Toronto shifted its focus back to Marc Gasol and acquired the big man from Memphis in exchange for Jonas ValanciunasDelon WrightC.J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick.

The Hornets came close to acquiring Gasol before some “last-minute haggling,”  ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes. Charlotte had a lottery-protected first-round pick on the table for most of the week leading up to the deadline. Lowe passes along more deals that were discussed behind the scenes. Here are the highlights from his latest piece:

  • The Sixers offered two second-rounders to the Pelicans for Mirotic and prior to trading for Tobias Harris, Philadelphia and New Orleans discussed a Markelle Fultz-Mirotic swap. Fultz was dealt to the Magic for Jonathon Simmons and a pair of picks.
  • The Hornets pursued a deal for Harrison Barnes, dangling a first-round pick to the Mavericks, Lowe adds in the same piece. Dallas would have had to take back long-term money in the potential deal, something that it wasn’t willing to do.
  • The Nets and Grizzlies briefly discussed sending Allen Crabbe to Memphis along with a first-round pick (Denver’s 2019 selection) in exchange for Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green, sources tell Lowe. Tax concerns led Memphis to shy away from acquiring Crabbe, who will take home approximately $19MM next season.
  • Several teams attempted to pry Andrew Wiggins from the Wolves without giving up much in return. Minnesota was uninterested in giving Wiggins away.
  • Kris Dunn was available at the deadline but the Bulls weren’t looking to deal Zach LaVine. Lowe writes that Chicago may have only considered trading LaVine if it received an overwhelming offer, something that was unlikely to occur.

Clippers May Pass On Pursuing Jimmy Butler

The Clippers may not pursue Jimmy Butler as a free agent this offseason, as the team doesn’t view him as a top-tier target, sources tell The Athletic’s Sam Amick.

Los Angeles traded Tobias Harris to the Sixers at the deadline in a deal helps the franchise obtain their goal of adding two max-level players. The team reportedly plans to pursue Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, though should one or both sign elsewhere, other stars will be prioritized over Butler.

Butler will be a free agent after the season and it’s no lock that the Sixers will make maximum salary offers to both Butler and new addition Tobias Harris, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears. Lowe adds that it’s nearly certain that both players will find a max deal if they look outside of Philadelphia.

The Clippers will have approximately $53.19MM in cap space this summer, which is just short of the two projected maximum salary slots. Amick writes that the front office already has a plan in place that carves out the additional cap space needed to bring in two stars (approximately $65MM total) without shipping out Danilo Gallinari, who is set to make $22.62MM next season.

Rival teams believe Leonard will sign with the Clippers should he leave Toronto. Durant’s future remains a mystery with the former MVP unwilling to delve into free agency hypotheticals.

Owner Steve Ballmer will angle to bring both in and he has a promising pitch. The Clippers are stocked with resources. Los Angeles has several first-round picks outside of their own selections and Ballmer’s personal net worth, which comes in at $38.4 billion—the most among all North American franchise owners—indicates that the team won’t be phased by potential luxury tax hinderances akin to LeBron James‘ super teams in Miami and Cleveland.

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Lowry, Sixers, Celtics, Russell

The Raptors struck a major deal to acquire star center Marc Gasol today, sending Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to Memphis in the agreement.

Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year, is expected to help push the Raptors to a deep postseason run as their new starting center.

“Marc’s a hell of a basketball player,” teammate Kyle Lowry said, as relayed by Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. “I got a chance to play with him earlier in our careers but neither of us were at the level we’re at now. It’s going to be very cool.”

Gasol also reunites with Sergio Scariolo, head coach of the Spanish National Team and current assistant with the Raptors. Gasol’s ability to score, rebound and defend at the center position intrigued the Raptors as a potential fit, with the team now sporting a projected starting five of him, Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.

“There’s a lot of things Marc can do,” Lowry said, according to Lewenberg“I think his playmaking is one of the things we’re going to really be able to use…I think his defence is going to help us also…There’s a lot of advantages he brings to us and I think he’s going to really help us.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Sixers made a move to acquire Tobias Harris from the Clippers this week, although it’s unclear how long discussions between the two sides lasted before an agreement was reached. Rich Hofmann of The Athletic suggests that the teams have discussed a Harris-related deal for months, while Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated reports that the deal started being discussed on Tuesday. Regardless, Philadelphia now has a “core four” of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid to compete in the Eastern Conference for the rest of the season.
  • Celtics general manager Danny Ainge reached out to the representatives of a few players today with hopes of filling the team’s open roster spot, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). However, Ainge is unsure about how much interest players will have, given how deep Boston’s roster is, Mannix notes.
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell is ready to recruit players to Brooklyn in free agency, speaking before the NBA’s trade deadline this week. “I mean we understand it’s a business,” Russell said, according to Chris Milholen of Nets Daily. “I got to be in Brooklyn to recruit someone to be in Brooklyn. I think that with the situation that we have with the young talent and like I said, we surprised a lot of people this year with the play that we have and I think we have a great situation for anybody to come in and be open with two arms.”

Western Notes: Clippers, Durant, Mavericks, Blazers

The Clippers‘ decision to trade Tobias Harris was part of their larger plan to sign Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard this summer, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. With its current roster, L.A. can create up to $53.19MM in cap room, enough for one maximum contract and about $20MM to chase a second star. But Amick reports that the Clippers have a plan to open space for two max deals, even if they can’t find a taker for Danilo Gallinari before today’s trade deadline. Gallinari is owed $22.6MM for next season.

The Clippers are also excited about the assets they received in the Sixers deal, Amick adds. They weren’t committed to giving Harris a max offer this summer, so they moved him for four draft picks (Miami’s first-rounder in 2021, Philadelphia’s first-rounder in 2020 with three years of lottery protection, plus Detroit’s second-rounders in 2021 and 2023) plus a promising rookie in Landry Shamet.

Amick also notes that Steve Ballmer’s willingness to spend gives the Clippers an edge in building a contender. He’s by far the wealthiest owner in the NBA and has connections to the tech industry that many players find appealing.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Free agency is nearly five months away, but Durant is already testy about speculation over his future, relays Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Breaking a week-long silence with the media, Durant lashed out at reporters after Wednesday’s game. “I have nothing to do with the Knicks,” he said. “I don’t know who traded (Kristaps) Porzingis. That’s got nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. Y’all come in here every day, ask me about free agency, ask my teammates, my coaches, rile up the fans about it. Let us play basketball. That’s all I’m saying.”
  • The Mavericks have traded four of their five starters over the past week as they start to build a new team around Luka Doncic, notes Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. Harrison Barnes was sent to Sacramento last night after last week’s blockbuster that brought in Porzingis for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews“This week is a zoo,” coach Rick Carlisle said, “but that’s part of the compelling business of our league.”
  • The Trail Blazers have a $3.5MM trade exception remaining if they want to swing one more deal before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Portland declined the chance to create a pair of small exceptions worth $1.5MM in the trade for Rodney Hood.
  • Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor has chosen an agent after being without representation since September, tweets Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. He signed with Excel Sports and will have Sean Kennedy as his agent.

Clippers Trade Tobias Harris To Sixers

12:02pm: The Sixers and Clippers have both issued press releases officially announcing the trade.

“We are in the unique position to contend now and we think this trade positions us well for the postseason,” Sixers GM Elton Brand said in a statement. “Tobias is one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA and possesses an innate ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor, while Boban and Mike provide valuable skillsets, size and depth to our team. All three players bring high character to our locker room and we are excited about their fit alongside Joel, Ben, Jimmy and our entire roster.”

7:10am: The Sixers and Clippers have agreed on a six-player deal that will send Tobias Harris to Philadelphia, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. In exchange, Los Angeles will bring back rookie Landry Shamet, two first-round picks and a number of other resources. Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the two sides had reached a deal.

In total, Philadelphia will acquire Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott while Los Angeles adds Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Philadelphia’s own 2020 first-rounder, Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder, and a pair of future second-rounders. The two second-round picks will be the Pistons’ 2021 and 2023 selections, per Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As for the Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports (via Twitter) that it will be lottery protected for three seasons, and would turn into a pair of second-round picks for 2023 and 2024 if it hasn’t conveyed after those three years.

It’s a massive swing by the 76ers, who appear to be going all-in on their current group after years of rebuilding. In Harris, they acquire a 26-year-old forward who is having the best year of his career. In 55 games for the Clippers, he averaged 20.9 PPG and 7.9 RPG with a shooting line of .496/.434/.877. All of those numbers are career highs.

Harris will join a starting lineup that already features Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and J.J. Redick, giving the Sixers arguably the most talented starting five in the East. Meanwhile, Scott and Marjanovic will help replace some of the frontcourt depth Philadelphia has sacrificed by trading Chandler, Muscala, Dario Saric, and Robert Covington this season.

Harris is on an expiring contract and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the Sixers intend to be “aggressive” in re-signing him to a new deal, sources tell Wojnarowski. The plan in Philadelphia is to secure the team’s Big 4 of Embiid, Butler, Simmons, and Harris long-term, regardless of luxury tax concerns, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

Of course, as Lowe observes in a follow-up tweet, having both Butler’s and Harris’ Bird Rights in free agency this offseason will give the Sixers some leverage negotiating with each player. If the franchise ultimately does re-sign both players and gives Simmons a maximum-salary extension, the Big 4 would likely cost approximately $120MM by the 2020/21 season, Bobby Marks of ESPN observes.

As for the Clippers’ side of the deal, while Harris had been great for the team since coming over in last year’s Blake Griffin blockbuster, he isn’t at the top of the organization’s wish list for 2019 free agency. As such, the club was comfortable giving up his Bird Rights in exchange for long-term assets.

By acquiring Shamet and two more first-round picks, including an unprotected 2021 Heat selection that could end up being pretty valuable, the Clippers have added more strong trade assets that could be used in pursuit of a star down the road.

Although the Clippers were one of the clubs on Anthony Davis‘ reported four-team wish list, L.A.’s front office didn’t make this trade with the primary objective to go after Davis, league sources tell Wojnarowski. Still, if the Clips pursue a player like AD or another star this week or in the offseason, their new assets will probably be more intriguing to a rebuilding team than Harris would have been.

Harris ($14.8MM), Marjanovic ($7MM), and Scott ($4.32MM) are all on expiring contracts, as are Chandler ($12.8MM) and Muscala ($5MM). However, the Clippers will actually add a little money to their books for 2019/20 by taking on Shamet, who is on his rookie contract and will earn just under $2MM in 2019/20.

Even after that modest addition to their cap, the Clippers will be in a good position to create the space necessary for at least one maximum-salary player in July. According to Marks, the Clippers should have about $37MM in room, and could increase that number to $49MM by waiving Avery Bradley. If they could find a taker for Danilo Gallinari, that figure would further increase to $70.7MM, which should be enough for two max slots.

The ramifications of this blockbuster deal on both conferences could be significant. In the West, the Clippers currently hold the No. 8 seed at 30-25, but the Kings and Lakers remain in hot pursuit of a playoff spot. Without Harris, the Clips’ playoff chances will dip, which in turn will reduce their odds of hanging onto their 2019 first-round pick — that selection is owed to the Celtics, but is lottery protected.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, there’s a clear group of four teams at the top of the postseason race, with the Sixers joining the Bucks, Raptors, and Celtics. It will be interesting to see whether any of those other contenders respond with moves of their own before Thursday’s deadline.

In his analysis of the trade, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps notes that Milwaukee may have already made its most significant move, acquiring George Hill earlier in the season, and Boston may save its assets for an offseason run at Davis. That leaves the Raptors as the most intriguing wild card over the next couple days. Toronto has been aggressive on several fronts, tweets Chris Mannix of SI.com.

Finally, one more cap-related note on this swap: The Clippers have multiple options for how to structure the deal, but one approach would see them create a $9.8MM traded player exception. Philadelphia won’t be able to generate a new TPE in the trade.

Austin Kent contributed to this story.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Mike Conley, Marc Gasol Suitors

The Jazz and Grizzlies have explored a trade involving Mike Conley and Ricky Rubio, and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears that Utah’s interest in the former No. 4 overall pick is “very real.” The organization could feasibly build a package around Rubio and Derrick Favors, who are both on expiring deals, while peppering in a draft pick or two.

Utah is reportedly unimpressed with the 2019 draft class and their first-round pick is on the table in trade talks. It’s unclear if the Jazz would toss in a second first-round pick for Conley, though it would be a surprising development. Lowe speculates that Dante Exum could be in the mix as part of a package, adding that the Jazz could move on to more affordable targets, such as Nikola Mirotic, if the price for Conley remains too high.

The Conley sweepstakes are expected to heat up as we get closer to the deadline and surprise suitors could emerge. Lowe passes along more from Memphis regarding their two biggest stars:

  • Marc Gasol is hoping for a trade and teams are waiting to see if the Grizzlies lower the asking price for their long-time center, Lowe reports. As for a potential Pistons-Grizzlies deal, Memphis has not shown any interest in acquiring Andre Drummond yet and Lowe hears that Detroit may be saving its trade chips for someone else.
  • The Pistons and Grizzlies have talked about a Conley deal, though discussions did not get very far. Detroit would likely have to ship out Reggie Jackson is a trade for Conley.
  • While Conley would be a nice on-court fit for the Pacers, Indiana has stepped away from Conley talks, sources tell Lowe. Lowe speculates that the Grizzlies would likely ask for Domantas Sabonis is a Conley deal, something that wouldn’t appeal to the Pacers.
  • The Jazz would have interest in signing Tobias Harris this summer should they not trade for Conley or make a major move at the deadline that utilizes their future cap space. The Clippers have received calls for Harris, per Lowe, though rival teams get the sense that they have no interest in trading him. Lowe adds that Los Angeles would be happy to re-sign Harris in the offseason.
  • The Kings are not as interested in Gasol as reports and speculation might suggest. Sacramento doesn’t appear to be willing to hand over a future first-rounder in exchange for the big man, as the club owes its 2019 pick to Boston (Philadelphia gets the selection if it’s the No. 1 pick).