clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Report: ‘A lot of teams’ are monitoring Tobias Harris ahead of 2024 NBA trade deadline

Could this be the year that the Sixers finally trade Tobias Harris?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Detroit Pistons v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

On last Thursday’s episode of FanDuel TV’s Run It Back, Shams Charania of The Athletic dropped some Sixers-related trade slop. He mentioned Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine and Toronto Raptors wing OG Anunoby as players “that Philadelphia has monitored,” which should come as little surprise to anyone who’s been following the news cycle in recent months.

However, his comments about Tobias Harris were more eye-opening.

“A lot of teams are keeping an eye on him and seeing what exactly happens with him,” Charania said in reference to Harris. “The Sixers want to keep him around, they know how important he is.”

Harris is in the final year of the five-year, $180 million contract that he signed with the Sixers back in 2019. His $39.3 million expiring deal makes him ideal salary filler if the Sixers do pursue a star on a max or near-max contract such as LaVine ahead of the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline. The Sixers also have plenty of other expiring deals to dangle, including Marcus Morris Sr. ($17.1 million), Robert Covington ($11.7 million) and Nic Batum ($11.7 million), but Harris is their easiest ticket to a third star if they decide to go that route.

Harris got off to a sizzling start this season, averaging 19.8 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting across his first 14 outings. However, his production and efficiency has nosedived since then, as he was averaging only 11.9 points on 44.4 percent shooting over his last 13 games before his breakout performance against the Toronto Raptors last Friday.

Against Toronto, Harris erupted for a season-high 33 points on 12-of-23 shooting (including 5-of-9 from deep!), eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal. It was only the third time in his career—and his second time as a Sixer—with at least 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a game.

The 31-year-old is still shooting a career-best 51.3 percent from the field this season, but his three-point volume and percentage had both plummeted. Even with his recent surge, he’s attempting only 3.3 three-point attempts per game, which ties his lowest mark over the past decade, and it took his 5-of-9 outing Friday and going 4-of-7 on Christmas Day to raise his percentage from 34.2 to 37.9 this year.

Harris addressed that lack of three-point volume while speaking with reporters last week.

“Obviously, we came into the season and Coach Nurse has wanted me to get up seven or eight of them a game.” Harris said (h/t Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire). “Obviously, sometimes, that’s not presented on a night-to-night basis, but it’s not shying away from ones that I do get and being consistent with it and truly just looking for it, but time to time, I watch the film every game looking for different opportunities.”

He added that he’s spoken with Nurse about whether he’s been passing up three-point opportunities and that Nurse didn’t think he was.

“Just figuring out ways and figuring out through the half-court offense, different settings where maybe you can let that one go,” Harris said. “It may not be the most comfortable look, but just letting it fly. It’s something I’ve definitely tried to get better at and hunt and get more attempts up.”

Early in the season, Harris appeared poised to live up to the “assassin scorer” label that his agent/father bestowed upon him this past summer. His regression over the last month raises questions about whether he’s the right long-term fit alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, though. Friday and Christmas Day not withstanding, the Sixers need a more dependable third option, whether it’s Harris or someone else.

Nurse has praised Harris as a jack-of-all-trades who can score in a variety of ways. He isn’t only a catch-and-shoot threat; he can post up, run a fast break and knock down mid-range jumpers, too. Every year, he goes through an adjustment period as he figures out where he fits in the Sixers’ constantly changing offensive hierarchy, but he typically settles in as a high-teens nightly scorer on above-average efficiency.

Now that the Sixers have far more wing depth than they’ve had in recent years, though, it’s fair to wonder whether they’d be better off with more of a specialist in Harris’ place than a well-rounded player who doesn’t do any one thing at an elite level. If the Sixers eventually reach that conclusion, it seems as though they’ll have no shortage of suitors for Harris.

James Edwards III of The Athletic wrote in mid-December that the Detroit Pistons might target Harris “sooner rather than later” if he becomes available. Charania reiterated on Wednesday that Harris is a target for Detroit. With the Pistons in the midst of a record 27-game losing streak (and counting!), they could value Harris’ veteran leadership and ability to stabilize a foundation that appears to be on the verge of breaking. If the Pistons were willing to send Bojan Bogdanovic to the Sixers in such a deal, the Sixers would have to at least consider it.

Other teams could be viewing Harris as potential long-term salary relief. The full array of penalties for exceeding the second salary-cap apron go into effect this coming offseason, so the trade deadline will be one of the final opportunities for teams with bloated payrolls to get their books in check. Some might be looking to flip a player on a multi-year contract for Harris’ expiring deal, although the Sixers’ cap-space plan could complicate that.

Either way, it seems like Harris should have suitors ahead of the trade deadline if the Sixers are open to moving him. And despite their messaging to the contrary, they absolutely should be willing to entertain those offers unless this past weekend’s breakout performances are a sign that he’s over his recent slump.

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NBA.com, PBPStats, Cleaning the Glass or Basketball Reference. All salary information via Spotrac or RealGM.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Liberty Ballers Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Philadelphia 76ers news from Liberty Ballers