Deadline Watch: Why a Tobias Harris Trade is more likely for 76ers
Since the 76ers embarrassing loss to the Hawks in last year’s playoffs, they have been rumored, linked, and reported to be very active in the trade market. Most of the reports have revolved around Ben Simmons, who has yet to suit up in a game since requesting a trade in the offseason.
While trade packages and rumors are still swirling around the former number one pick, I believe it is a lot more likely we see Tobias Harris traded at the deadline.
I am sure a ton of 76ers fans are eagerly awaiting the day Ben Simmons is off the roster, but all signs point to Daryl Morey continuing the long con with trading the 2x All-Star. Morey recently took the time to hop on Philly radio last week to once again reinforce the idea that he won’t be trading Ben for anything less than other superstar.
With rumors swirling around James Harden testing free agency in the upcoming off season, it is becoming more clear that Daryl may look to swap Simmons in a sign-and-trade based deal for Harden. Obviously Morey and Harden know each other well from their time together in the Rockets organization, and there’s no doubt that a Harden-Simmons swap would satisfy Daryl Morey’s superstar level return expectations.
If you’ve been keeping up on the Simmons situation here at The Liberty Line, you already know all about Simmons’ situation. So how does Tobias Harris fit into all of these discussions?
To get the obvious points out of the way, it is clear that Harris has not played up to the $180 million contract he was signed to just a couple years ago.
A contract given prior to Daryl Morey’s arrival in Philadelphia if I might add.
It all comes back to a concept I and the boys over at Process to Progress discussed last week (check out the full episode here). On the current roster, out of all the current starters, only one acquired by Morey which was Seth Curry.
Tobias Harris was brought in and extended under the control of Elton Brand, and Daryl Morey has a track record of not only star hunting, but scrapping starting units to create his own championship-caliber rosters.
At this point, it’s possible that Morey envisions a roster without both Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons. Harris’ draw is obviously much lower on the market and although he could be a great third option on a good team, I don’t think Harris, or his contract fit into Morey’s plans to go title hunting.
Tobias Harris’ production on the court since having to step into the #2 role for the 76ers has dipped significantly compared to his previous two seasons. His 18 points per game is fine, but usually comes with very inefficient shooting splits. Harris is shooting 46-percent from the field and 31-percent from deep so far this season, both career lows with the 76ers.
While his 3.8 assists is a career high, it isn’t enough to compensate for Simmons’ absence. Combine that with Tobias Harris’ ability to completely disappear in games and it is clear Tobi has taken a step back this season.
So how does all of this equate to Tobias Harris getting dealt at the deadline?
It all comes back to Daryl Morey getting to create his starting five around Joel Embiid. Tobias Harris carries a $37 and $39 million cap hit over the next two seasons, which severely constricts Morey’s ability to be active in the free agent market. Dealing him for assets that can come off the books after the season would allow Morey much more freedom in the offseason.
With Tobias Harris having one of his best games of the season against the Pelicans (31 points on 13-19 shooting) a team could get desperate and call Morey over the next couple weeks. I understand that Harris’ contract makes him vastly unappealing across the league but a rebuilding team could look to take it on in exchange for picks or other young guys on the 76ers roster.
A recent rumor circulating reports that the Kings have come around to the idea of a Simmons and Harris package, hinting at the idea more teams could be willing to take Tobias Harris.
I want to make it clear I don’t believe any Tobias Harris deal would net a good return for the 76ers. The move would be to simply create cap space for next off-season where Daryl Morey can build his own team. On top of that, I still believe that Daryl Morey and the Sixers front office won’t make any major deals come February 10th.
The point I want to get across here is that while a majority of the NBA continues to watch the Ben Simmons situation, don’t be surprised if Tobias Harris is the one that swaps jerseys at the mid-season mark.
Mandatory Credit: Matt Slocum