According to reports, the Clippers’ Tobias Harris turned down an $80 million extension and will enter free agency next summer.
According to David Aldridge, Tobias Harris has turned down an $80 million extension from the Clippers. This was the maximum amount the team could have given Harris as an extension, as the Clippers only had the ability to offer 120% of his current salary with 8% increases in each year of the deal. While the extension would be a nice raise for Harris, it would be a far cry from the $36 million a year deal he could get on the open market next year, let alone the $37.6 million he could potentially obtain from the Clippers.
Harris shined after being a part of the mid-season Blake Griffin trade, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Over 32 games with the team, Harris averaged 19.3 points per game while shooting 47.3% from the field and an impressive 41.4% from three. He became an integral part of the team’s offensive identity, and his positional fluidity pushed the Clippers farther into NBA modernity.
While he has been in the league since the 2011-2012 season, Harris is still only 26, and fits squarely into the team’s new timeline after the arrival of lottery picks Jerome Robinson and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If the projected cap of $108 million in 2019 holds, the Clippers could open as much as $66 million in cap room, giving them the opportunity to sign two max players in a class headlined by the likes of Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, and potentially Kevin Durant.
While the team has the opportunity to entice Harris with a lucrative and long-term max contract, it would be prudent to try to negotiate a fair middle ground in order to preserve the space they have shrewdly fought to preserve. Unless the team can somehow offload the now onerous Danilo Gallinari contract, offering Harris a max would potentially hamstring the team’s ability to add top end talent for the 2019-2020 season, especially since it owes its lottery-protected first-round draft pick to Boston and is showing no signs of tanking to keep it.
While Harris is an above-average player who has shown an ability to successfully expand his game, he does not project to be a first or second option on a championship caliber team. The Clippers’ desire to keep him now likely rests in the hands of one of the many teams with cap space next summer. At the right price, Harris could be a staple of the new era of Clipper basketball, but at almost 35% of the cap, the Clippers would be smart to move on.