Would Tobias Harris Be a Good Signing?

The New York Knicks are currently on a three game win streak (!), but many fans focus remains on the offseason. Knick faithfuls infatuation with this summer only increased Friday, when Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris expressed interest in joining New York.

The Knicks, as you likely know by now, have a very solid amount of salary cap space this summer in which to sign free agents. And while some big names have been floated around the team – Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Goran Dragic, etc. – Harris is definitely an option.

The big drawback with Harris is his free agent status. As a restricted free agent, the Magic have the opportunity to match whatever the Knicks offer him. If they do end up matching what’s called New York’s “offer sheet,” Harris will have to return to Orlando. This summer, there were two instances of this.

Dallas offered restricted free agent Chandler Parsons a 3-year, $46 millions dollar contract, and Houston failed to match it, making Parsons a Maverick. The Utah Jazz, on the other hand, matched the Charlotte Hornets offer sheet for Gordon Hayward, making the forward stay in Salt Lake City.

Orlando doesn’t have much money on the books; their roster is primarily made up of young players still on their rookie contracts, including Harris. The Magic have a lot of nice young pieces, like Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, Nicola Vucevic, and Aaron Gordon. They might not want to let a cornerstone of their new team leave.

This means that the Knicks would have to overpay Harris in order to land him, something that no Knick fan wants to hear. Harris turned down a 4 year, $36 million offer from the team to become a free agent, which could be a ballpark estimate of what New York might need to pay – or more.

Harris is a 22 year old forward out of Tennessee. He can play at small forward or power forward, which gives him some good versatility. He has a solid mid-range game, but can also get to the basket as well. He’s an all around offensive weapons, but a big drawback with him is passing; he’s only averaging 1.3 assists per game for his career.

Harris is having a career year for the Magic across the board. He is averaging 18 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game over the course of averaging 35 minutes a night. To top it off, Harris is shooting career highs from the field (47%) and from three point range (40%).

Harris is an exciting young player, yes, but he might not fit well in New York. His inability to spread the ball doesn’t at all compliment Carmelo Anthony, who has the same issue. While Anthony has shown improvement in his passing abilities, he still expects to take the majority of his teams shots every night, something that Harris will need to adjust to.

The 22-year old is Orlando’s go-to player on offense on the perimeter, which means that it will be tough or him to accept a back-seat role right away. His passing ability, or lack thereof, also don’t bode well for his fit in the triangle offense, which encourages fluid ball movement, and is heavily critical of isolation basketball.

Harris is a great young talent, with excellent scoring ability, and he actually wants to come to the Knicks (shock horror). Despite those positives, his fit with the team and with its superstar don’t exactly ensure success in New York City. When you throw in his status as a restricted free agent, its likely that in order to acquire him, the team would have to overpay in order to prevent the Magic from matching his offer sheet.

If I were the Knicks, I wouldn’t openly pursue Harris. If other options are gone, the team might panic and overpay him, and try and force a fit. I would wait another year and test the team in free agency in 2016.

Harris is a good player, but he isn’t much of a fit in New York, and ultimately wouldn’t make a good signing.


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