Something that ESPN’s Zach Lowe has mentioned a couple times in recent days — what do the Clippers do if they strike out on Kawhi Leonard? Well, Shams Charania of the Athletic floated a possible answer today in his roundup of NBA news, saying that league sources think the Clippers “should express interest” in Harris if they were to not sign Kawhi. Shams goes on to say the Clippers and Harris had a good relationship, and that he was having an All-Star caliber season before his trade to the Sixers.
I really can’t see this happening. Per almost everyone, and even the team itself, the Clippers are not interested in signing “B” free agents. And Tobias Harris, while he might get a max contract from a team (or multiple teams), and is a very, very good NBA player, is not an A-list player. He’s never made an All-Star team, and while he could feasibly make one or two in the next few years, that’s nowhere close to perennial All-Stars and All-NBA players like Kawhi and Kevin Durant. While the Clippers loved the return they got from Harris, the reason they traded him was because they didn’t want to offer him the max this summer.
That said, the organization loved Harris as a person and as a player, and if he’s willing to take a (significant) discount a reunion is possible. I just can’t see that happening. Some team is going to offer Tobias more money than the Clippers will, and he should absolutely take it, as this will probably be the biggest contract in his career. I really don’t think the Clippers will get close to a max for Tobias, with the 4 year, $80 million extension they floated last summer being a good benchmark for how they value him. Even if Harris doesn’t get a full max, he should be able to crack 4/100 fairly easily, and that’s a substantial difference in offers.
It’s certainly interesting that Shams has mentioned Tobias in the context of the Clippers (and a couple other people have as well), but this seems more like speculation on the part of these “league sources” than any intent by the Clippers or Tobias himself. It’s possible that a reunion takes place, but it seems very unlikely right now.