Tobias Harris is looking for certain things in his new team that the Mavs have and the Mavs are looking for things that Tobias has. Is this a match made in heaven?
We here at Mavs Nation have been working all summer to give opinions, options, and insight into the Mavs’ front office leading up to free agency. As it begins at 5pm on Sunday, it’s as good of a time as any to brush up on names that could be linked to Mavs this weekend. Below is an archive of Mavs Nation articles to prep yourself one heck of a Sunday.
After having seen the dozen or so names the writers here at Mavs Nation want you, our dear reader, to keep in mind, why not toss one more in? Tobias Harris. Tobias Harris is an unsung free agent looking for a max contract this offseason, but he brings a lot to the table as showcased last year on the first place Clippers before he was traded to Philly to help get them one Kawhi Leonard bounce away from the Eastern Conference Finals. He is a strong shooter and a decently long defender who is entering his prime at 26. So why isn’t he discussed more? The answer is that it was basically a foregone conclusion that he’d resign with Philly until now…
The single bounce that turned Kawhi into a postseason superhero and meme means that Philly really stands a chance in the East and should run it back and try to go for it all again next year, especially with the possibility of Kawhi leaving Toronto. If Philly ran it back, and Kawhi left the East, they would be favored to meet Giannis and the bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, Philly will have to make some hard decisions with both Tobias AND Jimmy Butler looking for max contracts in order to run it back. Could the Mavs benefit from this financial squeeze?
WHAT DOES TOBIAS WANT?
While attending Steve Nash’s annual charity soccer match, Tobias spoke rather candidly to the media regarding his offseason situation, so let’s look at a few quotes to see what Tobias is after.
When asked what he’s looking for in an organization, Tobias said,
“A great organization. Obviously winning’s important for me, star players are important, and just putting myself in the right opportunity to continue to improve my game and get better year in and year out.”
Well, the process may be finally working out, but most NBA fans would not call the way Philly has handled the past few years prior to this one as “GREAT”. The Mavericks organization has stability in the coaching staff and front office that few teams can boast as well as a supportive owner who gives JJ Barea his plane to help with Hurricane Maria aid. The Mavs have a “GREAT” organization. As far as star players, you can do worse than the freshly minted Rookie of the Year (which you can read about here) and a 23 yr old former All-Star in Kristaps Porzingis. It’s true, in Philly he has Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons, but that’s also more mouths to feed than he’d compete within Dallas. He could do worse…
But when asked what was MOST important to him, Tobias emphasized the style of play:
“The most important thing for me, I would say, is style of play. That’s the most important thing for me. That’s big for myself and my game, how I envision myself playing, envision myself growing and getting better year after year. So style of play, for my type of game, is the No. 1 thing I’m looking for in free agency…
Up and down, spread the floor, kinda like what everybody pictures the modern-day NBA team to be. Let’s shoot threes, get downhill, let’s get to the free-throw line, because those are the most efficient ways. But ball movement is the biggest thing. So, that style of play is most fitting for me.”
This might be the BEST thing going for the Mavs if they chose to pursue Harris. With Embiid in Philly, they play half court sets and feed the ball down into the post to their star center. This quote is really telling that while Harris can make it work anywhere, he would prefer a faster and flowing offense. Well, it just so happens that the Mavs, under coach Carlisle, run a flow offense that has pushed tempo the past 2 years as it’s gotten younger. Luka Doncic will push the pace as fast as his teammates will let him, sometimes passing full court to his open man.
And spreading the floor for Dallas should be NO PROBLEM. With Luka, KP, Tim Hardaway and either Powell or Kleba on the floor, there should be so much gravity that everyone would have room to work. Open lanes and a willing passer in Luka should provide for excellent spacing and 3s will be raining down in Dallas. For perspective, last year Dallas ranked 4th in the NBA in 3s taken as opposed to 19th ranked Philly. The Mavs shot over 500 more 3s than Philly, so the scheme in Dallas is far more open to the style of play that Tobias would like to play.
WHAT DOES DALLAS WANT?
So why should Dallas be interested in a player who turned down an $80M extension last summer from the Clippers to bet on himself? They should be interested because he checks nearly all the boxes this team needs to fill to make the tandem of Kristaps and Luka contenders this year. With KP and Luka being hybrids of their respective positions, they need a scoring wing in the middle who can defend beyond the arc and can hit shots from the outside. Tobias is a CHECK, CHECK and CHECK to all of their needs all while just now entering his prime (he’ll be 27 when the season starts).
Harris is 6’9” and 235 lbs Small Forward/Power Forward for small ball lineups, a perfect fit positionally between Luka and KP (CHECK #1). Harris also shoots the lights out. He averaged 20 points per game last year and shot 39.7% from beyond the arc (42.4% from 3 while with the Clippers, CHECK #2). This is the EXACT kind of scorer Luka needs to pass to if he is going to maximize his potential as a distributor. Luka driving the lane with the option to kick out to KP on one side of the arc or Tobias on the other would leave opposing defenses virtually helpless. And as far as defense, Tobias is not a lockdown defender, but he is serviceable and excels where the Mavs need the most help. On the year, Tobias is only a 0.2 in the +/-, but he was a 4.9 +/- once the playoffs started. He is rangy enough to make outside shooters drop their percentage chance of making a 3 by nearly 3%, which isn’t nothing for a team that struggled last year to defend it (Check #3).
It would seem that Tobias and Dallas have a lot to offer one another, but is Dallas willing to pay the man? He is clearly looking to “secure the bag” (which seems to be the theme of this NBA Offseason) and is able to receive a max offer of 4 years at $141M from any team not named the 76ers. Now he did tell reporters at Steve Nash’s charity game that he turned down his $80M extension to be able to control his future, so he might be amenable to a contract shorter than 4 years just to control his fate, but only time will tell.
Tobias seems as solid of a fit for the Mavs as any other players the team is linked to, if not more so than an Al Horford or even a Kemba Walker. The point is that there are more than those two options for the Mavs to pursue on Sunday and no one truly knows what this tight-lipped front office is REALLY up to. We all get to enjoy the ride and hopefully get to raise a glass once again to the geniuses that already got us Rookie of the Year, Luka Doncic, and magical Mavs unicorn Kristaps Porzingis in a single year.
As a reminder, free agency starts this Sunday at 5pm CST and Mavs Nation will be here to see you through everything the Mavs end up doing every step of the way.
Featured Image: BILL STREICHER - USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES