Offseason Roundtable | An Important Contract for a Class Act
For the latest installment of our 'Offseason Roundtable' series, Sixers.com's Brian Seltzer, Sixers Radio Network announcer Tom McGinnis, and 97.5 FM The Fanatic host Devon Givens analyze the re-signing of Tobias Harris.
Continuing to Trend Upwards
Since being selected 19th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2011 NBA Draft, Tobias Harris has experienced a lot, with a handful of different teams. But when the 76ers acquired the versatile veteran a day before the 2019 trade deadline, he arrived with career-high numbers of 20.9 points per game, while shooting 49.6% from the field and 43.4% from 3-point range.
Those were stats that convinced Elton Brand that Harris could slide right into the mix of an already-talented group with championship aspirations.
Over the course of his eight seasons as a pro, the 6-foot-9 smooth scorer from the University of Tennessee has seen his offensive game steadily improve. He is a three-level scorer who can get going from behind the 3-point line, in the mid-range, and on the interior, especially when matched up against smaller defenders.
By giving Harris a new deal that will keep him in a 76ers uniform for the long-term, the team has put its faith in the 27-year old to shoulder a nice chunk of the offensive load, and hopefully help the squad represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
What's even more exciting, both Harris and Brand believe his best is yet to come.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 12, 2019
“[Harris] is an elite player," Brand said recently. "You’re going to see his growth. He’s going to have the ball, he’s going to be able to do things he may not have shown last season."
“I’m looking forward to that a whole lot," said Harris. "I know my game. I know how I continue to improve year after year. I look to come into next year with that type of energy, that type of fire, to improve my game and to just show different parts of my game, too."
With the end goal being to contend for a title - an opportunity that Harris has been waiting for. He welcomes the challenge.
"That’s the only thing on my mind," he said.
Tobias Harris signed one of the most significant contracts in the history of the Philadelphia 76ers, and now becomes a foundational player for the franchise along with All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
The deal inked by Harris provides him with stability for the first time in his professional career. He gives the Sixers a proven scorer. He had a career year from the 3-point line last season. And as Devon noted, Harris now looks forward to an expanded role in the Sixers' offense and expects continued improvement in all aspects of his game.
I love when his number is called to exploit a matchup. He doesn’t mess around in those instances. More times than not, he faces up on a smaller opponent and drains a jumper. Simple and effective.
Earlier this month, we saw on social media that Harris was working out with Ben Simmons in Los Angeles. Much of their off-the-court conversation centered around how excited they were for the upcoming season, how much fun they’re going to have competing with this new group.
Harris is poised for another breakout season. Having the knowledge he’s a 76er right as he enters the prime of his career with a franchise that harbors championship aspirations motivates one of the classiest men in our game.
About a month and a half after Tobias Harris landed with the 76ers via a trade with the LA Clippers, he was holding court at a rec center in West Philadelphia, a stone's throw away from famed Overbrook High School.
The subject matter discussed in the gym that day wasn't basketball, however. Instead, it revolved around empowering young inner-city girls, dozens of which were seated on steel bleachers in front of Harris and the impressive panel of female professionals he assembled for an outing he called, 'Game Changers: Women in Sports, Tech, and Literacy.'
After the event wrapped up, our content team had the opportunity to sit down with Harris and interview him for a few minutes. What struck me more than any of his answers was a question he asked right before we started rolling.
"How did it go?," Harris asked. His tone was as genuine as it was innocent.
Here was a guy who had only been in town for a minute, so to speak, in the midst of a critical stretch of arguably the most important season of his professional career, and he was legitimately concerned about how his no-doubt-about-it slam dunk community outreach initiative was received.
Harris could have simply put his name on the event, let alone show up, and it would have been a hit. That afternoon, he did so much more. He inspired, generated important discourse, and - more than anything - showed he cared.
Again, at that point, Harris had only been with the 76ers six weeks. Not too long after that, he was nominated for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the second time in his career.
How does an anecdote like this relate to what Harris brings to the court, and his ability to affect the Sixers' title hopes? I think it reflects the type of person he is, the character he's capable of injecting into a locker room, and the way he can represent a franchise.
When a franchise commits to a player as the Sixers have done with Harris, all of those 'intangible' boxes should be checked. In this case, they most definitely are.
At a press conference last week that featured many of the 76ers' off-season acquisitions, Harris was asked about the significance of stability, given how frequently he's been on the move throughout his career. He said:
“It means a whole lot for me. Everybody knows over the course of my career I have been in different situations. Coming into the free agency meeting here and what was presented, the coaches, the organization, the love of the city and the thirst to get back to where we were and get even further [to] gain a championship...it was just a win-win. I am excited for that. I hope to finish my career here hopefully, God-willing.”
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) July 10, 2019
In every sense, and on all fronts, the match seems ideal.