Tobias Harris

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Jonas Jerebko, Warriors, PF, 31 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.18MM deal in 2018
Jerebko has bounced around the league the last few seasons but he always stays within his role and provides solid contributions wherever he lands. He’s averaging 7.2 PPG while shooting a career-high 48.9% from the field in 19.8 MPG. He’s also helped on the boards (5.5 RPG). An above-average 3-point shooter, Jerebko shouldn’t have too much trouble finding another contender to sign him as their backup stretch four next summer. It could be Golden State if he’s willing to settle for the veteran’s minimum again.

Tobias Harris, Clippers, 26, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $64MM deal in 2015
When news leaked over the summer that Harris turned down an $80MM extension offer from the Clippers, many people wondered what Harris was thinking. He was willing to bet on himself that he could do even better as an unrestricted free agent and thus far, the odds have increased in his favor. Harris is posting career highs in several major categories, including scoring (21.0 PPG), shooting (50.8%) and rebounding (8.5 RPG) for one of the league’s surprise teams. When the superstars come off the board, Harris will be next in line for a big payday.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The previous Pistons regime declined to give Caldwell-Pope a multi-year extension. He wound up signing a pair of generous one-year contracts with the Lakers but he’s been reduced to backup duty. Most of the shots he’s taken have come from beyond the arc and he’s not particularly good at it (33% this season, 34.4% for his career). Caldwell-Pope doesn’t appear to have a future with the Lakers beyond this season and will have to take a pay cut to find work elsewhere.

Dragan Bender, Suns, 21, PF (Down) — Signed to a three-year, $13.4MM deal in 2016
When the Suns drafted Bender No. 4 overall in 2016, then traded with Sacramento for No. 8 selection Marquese Chriss, they seemingly resolved their power forward spot for years to come. Instead, they wound up with two of the biggest busts in that draft. Chriss was traded away to Houston during training camp while Bender is barely seeing the court in Phoenix. He’s appeared in eight games while averaging just 5.5 MPG. Bender needs a change of scenery but he’ll have to settle for a modest deal next year until he proves he’s a genuine NBA player.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, PF (Up)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
The Kings have a lot of young bigs but Cauley-Stein has been a fixture in the lineup. He’s posting career highs at 14.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG while generally playing the same amount of minutes as last season. Cauley-Stein came into the league with a reputation of being a quality defender and he’s posted positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus ratings each season, according to Basketball-Reference. He’ll be a restricted free agent but might be one of the few who gets a substantial offer sheet, considering Sacramento will like choose to make Marvin Bagley III their main man in the middle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Rumors: Beverley, Durant, Butler, Harris

Back in July, we heard that Tobias Harris turned down a four-year extension offer from the Clippers. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, Harris wasn’t the only player with whom the Clippers discussed a contract extension this year. Deveney hears from a source that the team also spoke to guard Patrick Beverley about a new deal, despite the fact that he was still rehabbing from knee surgery at the time. Beverley decided to play out the final season of his contract instead.

Beverley, who is earning just over $5MM this season, would have been eligible for an extension worth up to about $47.5MM over four years, though the Clippers almost certainly offered less than that. I’d guess Los Angeles made an effort to lock up Beverley at a team-friendly rate following his long injury absence, with the 30-year-old betting he could rebuild his value in advance of his 2019 free agency.

Here’s more from out of Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers are keeping a close eye on Kevin Durant‘s situation in Golden State, and have every intention of making a pitch to Durant in free agency next summer, Deveney reports. Deveney suggests that Durant seems likely to hear out the Clips, though with his free agency still seven months away, it’s hard to get a sense at this point of what the process will look like.
  • The Clippers made “no significant push” to acquire Jimmy Butler when the Timberwolves were shopping him earlier this fall, sources tell Deveney. As we heard during that saga, the Clips were strongly opposed to including Tobias Harris in a package for Butler, and that stance has paid off so far — Harris, who leads L.A. in PPG (21.6) and RPG (8.4), has been the club’s best player this season.
  • Patrick Beverley was fined $25K by the NBA for throwing the ball at a spectator on Sunday, the league announced today in a press release.

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Haddadi, Goodwin, Douglas, Griffin

USA Basketball has secured a spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 event, Sportando relays. The USA team captured a berth with a 78-70 win over Uruguay on Sunday. Venezuela and Argentina were the other teams from the Americas who also qualified for the FIBA tournament.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Center Hamed Haddadi and shooting guard Archie Goodwin will continue their careers in China, according to a pair of Sportando posts. Haddadi, 33, reached an agreement with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. He last appeared in the NBA during the 2012/13 season with the Grizzlies and Suns. Goodwin, 24, signed with the Qingdao Eagles. He most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in a combined 15 games for the Nets and Pelicans.
  • Former NBA guard Toney Douglas has reached an agreement with the Turkish club Darussafaka, according to another Sportando report. Douglas previously played for another team in Turkey, Sakarya. Douglas, 32, most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season with the Grizzlies when came off the bench for 24 games.
  • The blockbuster deal that sent Blake Griffin from the Clippers to the Pistons last winter has worked out surprisingly well for both sides, as Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. Griffin has stayed healthy and played like an MVP candidate for the Pistons through the first 20 games this season, while Tobias Harris is the leading scorer for one of the league’s most prolific offenses, John continues. The draft pick the Clippers acquired was used on point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has displayed unusual poise as a rookie, John adds.

L.A. Notes: Harris, Rivers, Ball, Walton

Tobias Harris is one of the leaders of a surprising Clippers team that is near the top of the Western Conference, but he still isn’t immune to trade rumors. Harris checked with management after he heard his name floated as part of a package to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves, writes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. It turned out that the Clippers were interested in Butler, but they envisioned using him and Harris together.

“It is hard, but you have to be honest and there’s times when you tell [players], ‘I can’t tell you.’ I tell guys that,” coach Doc Rivers said. “But with Tobias it was easy. I was pretty confident he wasn’t going anywhere. That one wasn’t that hard for us. We love Tobias. And we think he’s part of our future here.”

Harris, who has been with four teams in his eight NBA seasons, is headed for free agency next summer and can expect a significant raise from the $14.8MM he is making this year. Whether he stays in L.A. or not, he already has plenty of experience with the business side of basketball.

“It didn’t bother me. It was funny,” Harris said of the trade rumor. “At the end of the day, I’m so well-equipped and well-suited for whatever’s next that nothing will ever surprise me.”

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • With cap room to offer at least one max contract, the Clippers are expected to be a major player in free agency and Rivers believes the organization has a unique selling point, relays Martin Rogers of USA Today“Coming to the Clippers and turning them into a team that wins a title? It hasn’t been done,” Rivers said. “For a lot of these players, it is the chance to go to a franchise and ‘be the man,’ be the one that gets them to something [we’ve] never done in the history of the franchise.”
  • The Lakers have tried several options to run the second-unit offense with Rajon Rondo injured, and it appears that job may fall to Lonzo Ball, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Ball played more minutes with the reserves in Sunday’s win in Miami and may get that role on a long-term basis.
  • Head coach Luke Walton has heard that his job is in jeopardy several times since taking over the Lakers, but he has a supporter in Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who coached LeBron James under similar circumstances, Goon adds in a separate story. “If you look at his whole professional career, all of [it] he has been involved with are teams like this with great expectations, with a lot of pressure and a lot of noise,” Spoelstra said. “He doesn’t know any different. I don’t think you can find a better fit than to coach that team.”

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Celtics, Harris, Nets

This week’s trade that brought Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves puts the Sixers in win-now mode, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. It gives the team a third star to join with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but removes the luxury of developing younger players such as Markelle Fultz.

Butler displayed his ability to be a difference maker in Saturday’s win over the Hornets. He blocked a shot by Kemba Walker late in overtime, then sank a game-winning 3-pointer.

“I think it’s the beginning of something different now,” coach Brett Brown said. “I think there’s a cleansing and sort of a base that has been built. We are very proud of the culture, the standards, the rules and all that stuff. … I think there is a starting point now that’s more pronounced as far as a base to take off than there has ever been.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There was a tense atmosphere in the Celtics‘ locker room following Saturday’s one-sided loss to the Jazz, relays Jay King of The Athletic. Coach Brad Stevens inserted his end-of-the-bench players with about nine minutes left in the game, then questioned his team’s toughness in a post-game interview. It’s the latest bump in the road for the Celtics, who have stumbled to a 9-7 start after being the preseason favorites to win the East. Kyrie Irving suggested the problem may stem from younger players forcing shots because they’re trying to duplicate the success they had last year when they had their roles expanded because of injuries.
  • Tobias Harris would be a sensible free agent target for the Nets, especially if he continues playing the way he did Saturday, writes Bryan Fonseca of NetsDaily. The Clippers forward and Long Island native lit up Brooklyn for 27 points and eight rebounds, showing that he would make a nice addition to the Nets’ lineup. “I’m just focused on the team that I put a jersey on every single night for,” he said when asked about the possibility of coming to Brooklyn. “I think it wouldn’t be fair if I had my mind somewhere else at this time. I’m just focused on helping this team and let’s see how far we can go.”
  • Someone will be pulled from the Nets‘ rotation when Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returns from his ankle injury, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Lewis adds that coach Kenny Atkinson doesn’t want to give regular minutes to more than 10 players per night.

Nets Rumors: Butler, LeVert, Allen, Russell, RHJ

Although the Nets internally view Jimmy Butler as a top-10 or top-15 player in the NBA, the team resolved not to give up any of its prime assets for him once he became available, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. When Brooklyn briefly discussed the possibility of acquiring Butler in a trade, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and the team’s first-round pick were off-limits.

As Scotto details, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have talked throughout their tenures about not “skipping steps” in the Nets’ rebuilding process. Sacrificing one or two of the club’s top young players or draft picks would have meant going for a quick fix, with no assurances that Butler would have stuck around beyond 2019.

Here’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • The Nets did kick the tires on Butler before the Timberwolves sent him to Philadelphia, having discussed a deal involving D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and salary filler, league sources tell Scotto. However, those talks didn’t gain any traction.
  • Scotto identifies Nikola Mirotic and Tobias Harris as two veteran forwards who may receive interest from the Nets during the summer of 2019. Brooklyn has long coveted a reliable stretch four, and Mirotic and Harris, who will both be unrestricted free agents next year, are capable of playing that role.
  • As he approaches restricted free agency, D’Angelo Russell is showing a little more consistency, particularly on the defensive end, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “His maturity, his consistency, that’s what we’re starting to see,” Kenny Atkinson said. “That’s the challenge for him. It’s not on-again, off-again. We need more on from him, and I think he’s starting to get over that hurdle. He looked really good physically, too, against Denver (on Friday). He really got after it.”

Latest On Jimmy Butler Trade Saga

It has now been 19 days since word of Jimmy Butler‘s trade request was leaked, and despite pressure from Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, Butler has “never wavered” on his desire to be moved, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. According to Krawczynski, Butler has dined with teammates and sent text messages of encouragement to players like Taj Gibson and Josh Okogie, but remains determined to leave Minnesota, preferably before the season begins.

If the Timberwolves are unable to complete a deal soon, Butler may “begrudgingly” report to the team in advance of the regular season, says Krawczynski. Despite not reporting to Minnesota so far, Butler isn’t expected to forfeit pay checks once the season begins, even if his return would create an awkward situation for him and his teammates.

Here’s more on the Butler saga:

  • While trade talks between the Timberwolves and the Heat – and other teams – have hit a stand still at various times in recent weeks, those discussions are still ongoing, says Krawczynski. While some potential trade partners can perhaps afford to wait and see if they can sign Butler during 2019’s free agent period, clubs like the Heat and Rockets are under more pressure to pull off a trade, since they won’t have cap room next summer.
  • The Heat now appear willing to include Josh Richardson in a potential deal for Butler, but the Clippers haven’t relented on Tobias Harris, according to Krawczynski. A report last week indicated that the Clips didn’t plan to trade Harris, and nothing has changed on that front — L.A. hasn’t put its veteran forward in any offers for Butler, per The Athletic. There are “no active talks” between the Timberwolves and Clippers, Krawczynski adds.
  • The Timberwolves have “quietly pushed back” on the idea that they deserve the blame for a deal not being completed yet, writes Krawczynski. The Wolves insist they don’t feel obligated to accept a below-market offer for Butler just because the regular season is approaching.
  • Within his Sunday report on the talks between the Heat and Timberwolves, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that the Heat’s apparent willingness to pay Butler a five-year deal at or near the maximum salary has contributed to the swingman’s enthusiasm for a trade to Miami.
  • The Heat had been looking to involve a third team in the Butler talks to take on an unwanted contract – perhaps Dion Waiters‘ deal – but incentivizing that third team with draft picks became one of the road blocks to getting something done, league sources told Wojnarowski.

Wolves, Clippers Continue To Discuss Jimmy Butler

While the Heat have long looked like the favorites in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, Miami isn’t the only team talking to the Timberwolves. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Wolves and Clippers have had ongoing discussions about a Butler trade.

[RELATED: Wolves tell teams to improve offers for Butler]

The Timberwolves have asked for multiple players and picks in conversations with the Clippers, and would prefer to land Tobias Harris in any Butler deal, sources tell Haynes. Minnesota’s asking price has thus far been deemed too high for the Clippers, who don’t plan to trade Harris, Haynes adds.

Some details in Haynes’ report echo what we’ve heard in previous stories about the Timberwolves’ trade discussions — the Yahoo Sports scribe suggests that the Wolves’ front office “hasn’t fully engaged” the Clippers’ pitches. Other reports on Butler have conveyed similar sentiments on Minnesota’s apparent unwillingness to actively engage potential trade partners.

As Haynes writes, there’s a belief that Tom Thibodeau is still holding out hope that he can convince Butler to report to the team and rescind his trade request, despite Thibodeau’s public insistence that the Wolves are working on making a deal. Minnesota’s head coach and president of basketball operations told reporters today that trade talks are “ongoing,” as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press relays.

The Clippers were initially named as one of the teams on Butler’s short list of preferred destinations. The team will clear a significant amount of salary from its books at the end of the 2018/19 season, and could have room for a second maximum-salary free agent even it acquires Butler.

In other Butler news, Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) hears from a league source that the Bucks haven’t had any “substantive” talks with Minnesota about Butler. No players were put on the table and there’s no ongoing dialogue between the two sides at the moment, Velazquez adds. Milwaukee had been named as a potential dark horse Butler suitor early in the process.

Western Rumors: George, Schroder, Butler, Harris

Paul George made up his mind to stay with the Thunder weeks before free agency, which is why he didn’t bother meeting with the Lakers, Marc Spears of ESPN relays. George, speaking after a Team USA practice on Thursday, acknowledged Oklahoma City took a gamble by trading for him last offseason after he previously made it known he wanted to play in L.A. That gamble paid off, even though it was “tempting” to meet with the Lakers, according to George.

“Honestly, I wanted to come back home. But again, I got traded to [the Thunder],” he said. “Loved the situation. Loved where I was at. I decided to stick around a little longer. … I just wanted my free agency to be over with.”

George inked a four-year, $137MM deal to stay put.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • George is thrilled with the acquisition of Dennis Schroder from the Hawks, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman passes along. Schroder was biggest piece OKC acquired from Atlanta in the Carmelo Anthony swap. “He’s not going to start, but hands down the best backup point guard in the league,” George said. “He’s that mid-tier star in our league, one of the best point guards in the league in general. … We’ve got another scorer, another playmaker and just another savvy guy in the locker room that can help us win ball games.”
  • Timberwolves shooting guard Jimmy Butler underwent a minor elective procedure on his right hand, the team’s PR department tweets. Butler has already returned to offseason activities.
  • Clippers forward Tobias Harris appreciated the team’s $80MM extension offer but ultimately decided he’d take his chances as an unrestricted free agent next summer, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports. “I think that as a player you never know, but just to get that offer was an amazing feeling,” Harris told Turner. “For me, I’m a kid who puts everything into the game and to have an organization come to me with that offer and to be able to present that was a really big accomplishment. It showed that the team valued me as a player.”
  • Warriors forward Draymond Green isn’t participating in the USA Basketball minicamp, Spears tweets. He joins many other stars, including LeBron James and Stephen Curry, who decided to skip it.

Tobias Harris Declines Clippers’ Extension Offer

After ongoing amicable discussions between player and team, Clippers forward Tobias Harris has reportedly decided to turn down a contract extension offer worth approximately $80MM and play out the final season of his current deal in Los Angeles, according to David Aldridge of TNT.

Because the maximum amount the Clippers could have offered in the first season of an extension is only 120% of Harris’ 2018/19 salary, which equates to $17.76MM, and raises are limited to 8%, the maximum value of the extension offer was $79.56MM. Based upon the $80MM figure reported by Aldridge, it therefore appears as though the Clippers offered Harris the most money they possibly could under NBA rules.

Nevertheless, Harris, 26, will now play out the final year of his current deal and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He will be eligible to sign a five-year, $189.7MM with the Clippers or a four-year, $140.6MM deal with another franchise, whereas as explained above, he could have only earned $94.4MM over the next five years if he had excepted the extension offer.

Still, it’s still a bit surprising to see Harris turn down such a lucrative offer when next year’s free agent crop is turning heads already and big deals like we saw in the summer of 2016 just aren’t coming around as often. Only time will tell whether Harris made the right call.