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Is Tobias Harris worth the max ... to the Nets

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Five Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Setting value in any market is about supply and demand and according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the limited supply of rangy big men after Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard is going to create a demand for Tobias Harris ... at a steep price, almost certainly the max.

Pompey notes that the Nets, along with the 76ers and four other teams are all interested in the 6’9” 26-year-old from Long Island. Here’s what he wrote Tuesday...

According to several sources, the Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, and Brooklyn Nets are among the teams that will go after the forward in free agency. All five teams can offer maximum-salary contracts.

By trading for Harris, the Sixers acquired his Bird rights. That enables them to offer him a five-year, $188 million max contract.

Teams that don’t have his rights are only able to offer Harris a four-year, $141 million max contract in free agency. The Sixers will most likely have to offer the five-year maximum for him to stay.

The Sixers, Pompey notes, want Harris back, almost need to bring him back because of what they sent the Clippers for him, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott: all-rookie team guard Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, and four draft picks — including a protected 2020 first-rounder and the unprotected 2021 Miami Heat first-rounder. (L.A. turned Muscala into Ivica Zubac.)

Problem for Harris and the Sixers is that they’d be paying $188 million to a player who’d likely be the fourth option ... and at the same time, would have to satisfy Jimmy Butler, who also wants the max at the cost of another $188 million! Will Harris be willing to take that much of a back seat, no matter what the cash differential? He’s been very non-committal.

And no wonder: he played a much bigger role with the Clippers than with the 76ers, as Pompey notes. He averaged 20.9 points in 55 games with the Clippers but only 18.2 points in 27 regular-season contests with the Sixers. Moreover, the Sixers didn’t draw up plays for Harris and virtually ignored him in Game 7 of the Raptors-76ers game.

That has led teams like the Nets and the others to believe that he could be wooed in the off-season. Brooklyn’s top priority —”Option A,” as Kenny Atkinson put it— is Durant. (Optimism about Leonard is fading). Would they be happy Harris their back-up plan ... at that price? They might.

Harris’ skillset would fit neatly into the Nets puzzle. He plays both ends of the court and can play the 3 or the 4. He has a 36.4 percent career three point shooting percent. He’s an excellent character guy —up for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award. And he’s local, from Dix Hills on the island. His grandmother still lives in Bedford-Stuyesant in Brooklyn. There are even family connections to Kenny Atkinson who grew up 11 miles away.

“His brother [Steve] coached at my high school. He coached my little brother,” Harris said of Atkinson last month. “They have a big family, a couple times I ran into another one of the brothers he has. It’s not the biggest place. I know coach Kenny.”

It’s still a long 40 days till free agency and the Nets still have some housekeeping to do to get as the cap space they need to satisfy their needs. Watch this space.


Meanwhile, at a Wall Street Journal conference, Durant’s manager said that neither he nor KD know what he’s going to do.

On top of that, Marc Stein said the most recent rumor is that KD is headed to L.A. and the Clippers. In his latest newsletter, Stein writes...

[F]irm predictions about what Durant will do when free agency starts in 40 days are ill-advised.Within the last month, very smart and plugged-in people I have consulted say that the Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as an equally dangerous threat to the Knicks to sign Durant away from Golden State. And I believe it.Problem is, at various points during the season, I have heard trusted insiders state with conviction that Durant is already planning to join the Knicks … and then that he is likely to consider the Nets as well … and now that he is eyeing the Clippers just as intently as New York.

Like we said, watch this space.