As a restricted free agent, Harris could have signed an offer sheet with other teams that the Magic would have been able to match. Instead, they struck a deal of their own to keep the four-year veteran in Orlando.
Harris, 23 this month, averaged 17.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 68 games for the Magic last season. He has spent much of the last three seasons with Orlando after the Milwaukee Bucks traded him in February 2013 in the deal that sent J.J. Redick to the Bucks.
Harris shot a career-high 36.4% from three-point range last season and his 46.6% mark from the floor was the highest since his rookie season, when he averaged only four shots per game.
In May, Orlando hired Harris’ former head coach in Milwaukee, Scott Skiles.
In SI.com’s pre-free agency player rankings, Ben Golliver ranked Tobias Harris No. 22 among available players.
This summer’s restricted free agency class isn’t all that deep, putting forgotten up-and-comers like Magic forward Tobias Harris in position for some legit courting. There’s a lot to like here: Harris has ramped up his production consistently over the course of his career, he joined Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and teammate Victor Oladipo as the only 22-and-under players to average at least 17 points per game last season, he has the size and frame to play three or stretch four, and he just shot a career-best 36.4% from deep last season.
What’s the catch? Well, for starters, Harris arguably hasn’t yet played a single meaningful NBA minute, getting limited run in Milwaukee before trudging through two long rebuilding seasons in Orlando. Harris fares quite poorly by Real Plus-Minus, and Orlando’s defense, which was consistently bad last season, got even worse when he was on the court (plunging from 102.9 when he was on the bench to 106.7). According to reports, Harris is seeking a max offer sheet, which seems overly rich even in the most optimistic light. His suitors reportedly include Detroit and Boston; Orlando, with a ton of young pieces and a new coach in Scott Skiles, would probably be better served letting Harris walk than overpaying just for the sake of keeping him.
- Mike Fiammetta