Kings Free Agency Target Profile: Tobias Harris
Welcome to KHTK’s Kings free agency profiles! Here we’ll be breaking down some of the top players the Kings should target in free agency, analyzing their career numbers, fit with the Kings and potential downsides. We’ll also assign a priority score to each player, signifying how strongly the Kings should consider pursuing a given free agent.
Tobias Harris has found himself part of many different teams despite playing just eight NBA seasons. Drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2011, Harris started his career with the Milwaukee Bucks before being traded to the Orlando Magic. From there, he made his way to Detroit via trade, playing 157 total games over three seasons.
Harris was then traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he put up the best numbers of his career in 87 starts. His great performances in 2018 resulted in another trade — this time to the Philadelphia 76ers — where he was eliminated from the playoffs in the second round by the Toronto Raptors in the conference semifinals.
The title “journeyman” in the NBA carries the negative connotation that teams do not value a player enough to keep him, or he can’t seem to find a fit anywhere. In Harris’ case however, being frequently traded has been a result of his upside, potential, and success.
The power is finally in Harris’ hands now that he’s an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old forward is expecting a major payday, and will be able to go where he decides. Coming off a career year offensively where he averaged 20 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field and 39 percent from three, he will have more than a fair share of offers from teams looking for a scoring, hybrid forward who can also hold his own on the defensive end.
The Sacramento Kings have money to spend and a clear goal in mind — make the playoffs and end a 13 year drought. As exciting and promising as their young core is, the Kings are in need of a big piece to help get them over the hump in a merciless Western Conference. With an almost non-existent shot at landing a superstar free agent like Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard, Harris is a high-quality player who lands on an achievable free agent tier for Sacramento.
Sacramento’s only established starters are point guard De’Aaron Fox and shooting guard Buddy Hield. The Kings can lock down the small forward position as well if they reach an agreement with Harrison Barnes on a new contract.
It’s also well understood that Marvin Bagley will become a consistent starter in his sophomore NBA season. His position is up for debate. Bagley spent most of his rookie season at power forward alongside centers Willie Cauley-Stein and Harry Giles. However, he did get some time as a center, and he’s more than capable of playing the position with his 6′ 11″, 234-pound build.
That opens the door for Harris to come in as the starting four. He can handle the position defensively while fitting in well with the core of Fox, Hield and Bagley. He can score, defend, and a number-one option when called upon. Harris has shown he doesn’t necessarily have to be the top guy to fully contribute or be worth the significant payday he would receive.
If you want to play with the big boys you have to be ready to pay for it. The Kings have the money for a max contract, which is what it will take to get Harris to Sacramento. A max contract is essentially a commitment to Tobias being the final piece of the core, that will compete for a championship at some point over the next four years.
It may be a little early to take such a gamble, but the Kings have been playing passive and “safe” for much of this long playoff drought. While there is still plenty of time for Fox, Bagley, Giles, and the other young guns to develop and improve — betting against the Western Conference and electing to wait out consistent juggernauts — might be just as big of a gamble.
The Washington Wizards handcuffed themselves with massive contracts, forcing them to trade Otto Porter last season for significantly less than what he was worth just to free up cap space and avoid more massive luxury tax penalties. It’s understandable why fans, and the organization, might be wary of putting themselves in the same bind. On the other hand, with full contractual control of the young players, including bird rights, Sacramento has options.
Landing Harris would be massive for the Kings, who have been unable to sign a free agent of his quality in Sacramento’s history. The closest they have come is when current Kings general manager Vlade Divac signed prior to the 1998-99 season.
Throwing all the money at Harris is not their only option. There are other, potentially cheaper, and just as lucrative paths they can take like bringing in a couple of quality veterans rather than one near-all-star.
I love the fit. I love the idea of Harris in a Kings uniform. I love the significant, immediate effect it would have on Sacramento’s playoff chances. All I can ask for is that the Kings, if truly interested, really give it a shot, not backing down to the larger markets that have always reigned supreme in free agency.
Priority Score: 7/10