Tobias Harris prioritizing winning, starpower over location
NBA free agency begins on June 30, but the league's offseason is already in full swing with numerous trades going down already and draft night upon us.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, they have five picks in Thursday night's draft. Following the draft, focus shifts to their biggest free agents -- Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick -- and how they will construct their roster for the 2019-20 season.
There has been plenty of debate among Sixers fans as to what they should do with Butler and Harris, with most going with the "run it back" strategy which would involve re-signing both players likely to max contracts. Interest in Butler seems limited to the Sixers, Rockets and Lakers.
Meanwhile, Harris has a 5-6 teams already planning to pursue him in free agency, most notably the Brooklyn Nets. As a native of Long Island, NY, Brooklyn might be the most desirable place for Harris, but that may not be the case.
Harris was in Manhattan on Wednesday for Steve Nash's annual charity soccer match, and he told reporters, including Shlomo Sprung of Forbes, that location isn't necessarily as important as other factors leading into free agency.
“A great organization. Obviously winning’s important for me, star players are important," Harris said, "and just putting myself in the right opportunity to continue to improve my game and get better year in and year out. I know the work that I put in the offseason correlates to the season. So I know what’s gonna be expected of me as a player."
He was then asked if location will be a factor in his decision.
“Location is location," he said, "but at the same time those things [I mentioned] are presently first for me.”
The Nets are reportedly front-runners for Kyrie Irving and also have interest in Kevin Durant if he leaves Golden State.
Harris also mentioned that he believes that he can fit into any style of play and that Joel Embiid is the 'best big man in the NBA'. The Sixers big man was also in Manhattan with Harris and tried to get an important answer out of the impending free agent forward.
The Sixers acquired Harris, along with Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic in a February trade with the Clippers that send Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and picks to Los Angeles. Harris shot 46.9 percent from the floor in 27 regular season games with the Sixers, but struggled from beyond the arc, hitting 32.6 percent of his shots from three-point range. In 12 playoff games, his three-point percentage went down to 34.9.
Although his time with the Sixers had its ups and downs, Harris has cemented himself as a proven shooter in the NBA and if JJ Redick goes elsewhere, he could see his role increased in the offense, which would only help.
Harris, 26, will likely receive four-year max offers from a number of teams, but the Sixers have the ability to add on a fifth year, which gives them the upper hand in free agency.