Kurt Helin

Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic

Report: Tobias Harris expects near max deal, that likely pulls him out of Orlando


A couple months ago, it seemed highly likely Tobias Harris would return to the Orlando Magic next season, that the team would match any offer to keep the restricted free agent.

Then the Magic hired Scott Skiles as coach. Skiles had coached Harris in Milwaukee and buried him on the bench. It wasn’t until Harris was a throw in on a three-team trade headlined by Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette that got Harris away from Skiles and to Orlando, where he blossomed.

Now Harris is going to test the market and is looking for a near max deal. The buzz around the league is that if the small forward gets that, the Magic will let him walk. From Shams Charania of Real GM:

As Orlando restricted free agent Tobias Harris will pursue a maximum-level offer sheet on July 1 that the Magic possibly won’t match, the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics have emerged as leading candidates for the talented forward, league sources told RealGM….

Around the NBA, several teams are believed to be open to preparing a near-max contract for Harris — which could approach $15 million-plus per season, an area the Magic likely elect not to match given the course of extension talks last October and their current team salary structure.

Last summer Orlando wouldn’t go into eight figures per year for Harris, there’s little chance they would do that now with Skiles as coach.

Detroit makes a lot of sense. The Pistons want help at the three spot — that’s why they drafted Stanley Johnson at No. 8 Thursday — and they want floor-spacing shooting, and Harris shot 36.4 percent from three last season.

Harris also would be a great fit with the Celtics, who are looking to upgrade the talent on their roster but with players who can continue to grow with their young core guys.

Teams like the Knicks and Lakers also have been mentioned as potential suitors.

However it shakes out, it’s hard to see him picture in Orlando next season.

PBT Extra: Unpredictability of draft leads to some good fits down the board

2015 NBA Draft

It all started with the Lakers at No. 2 — just a few days before the Lakers sent out smoke signals that they were leaning hard toward Jahlil Okafor with the second pick in the draft. Instead, they zagged and went with D’Angelo Russell.

That led to Okafor crowding the front court in Philadelphia, then Kristaps Porzingis frustrating Knicks fans (even though that is not a terrible pick). From there the fun cascaded down the draft board, and some teams got some great picks for them — Justise Winslow to the Heat, Bobby Portis to the Bulls and so on.

I talk about how the unexpected is the most fun part of the draft in this PBT Extra.

PBT Podcast: Was the Knicks taking Porzingis that bad? We talk NBA draft.


Like everyone, we love that the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t screw up the No. 1 pick and took Karl-Anthony Towns. We love how Justise Winslow fits perfectly with the Miami Heat.

And, we don’t hate the Knicks taking Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4. Oh, we have questions about whether they can be patient enough to make this work, but we don’t hate the pick.

It’s all things draft as we break down the first 10 picks plus other draft highlights in this latest PBT Podcast. PBT’s Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard also talk about the Mason Plumlee trade to Portland, and discuss both the Rockets picks and the head scratcher the Celtics made at No. 16.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Top five guys not taken in NBA Draft

Baylor v Kansas

At any given time, about 20 percent of the guys on an NBA roster were players who were not drafted. They are guys that the NBA teams missed on, or who were just a little slower to develop but finally got to an NBA level.

There were some quality players who did not get picked on Thursday night in New York and may fit that bill.

Most of these guys will latch on with a team for Summer League and will try to use that showcase to earn themselves and invite to a training camp. From there they have the chance to prove they belong.

Here are the top five guys overlooked by teams and not picked in the 2015 NBA Draft who may belong in the NBA.

Cliff Alexander, 6’9” power forward (Kansas): This was a guy projected as a bubble first rounder who fell all the way out of the draft for some reason. In a league that is trending small, Alexander brings the kind of stout frame and athleticism that lets him play physically inside and still get out and run the floor and dunk. He knows how to crash the boards. What he lacks is a good jump shot or much polish on the offensive end — his straight-line game relies on his athleticism to get things done, but everyone in the NBA is athletic. If he can develop a steady jumper, his value will go way up, but he’s a bit of a project on both ends of the court.

Jonathan Holmes, 6’9” forward (Texas): He moved out on the perimeter more in his senior season in Texas, which showed mixed results but some promise. He found a way to score, often working off the ball, in Austin, but he’s got to show a more consistent shot to make an NBA rotation. Also, he’s going to have to prove he can defend at the NBA level. How much can a senior still grow, if he can he can become an NBA role player some day.

Christian Wood 6’11” power forward (UNLV): I hate to use the word upside, but let’s just say there is a lot of potential here. He has a versatile offensive game and right now is great in transition, or cutting/rolling in half court. He’s skilled, but he needs to develop a steady jump shot and three to become a huge threat in the NBA. He’s long with a lot of defensive potential as well.

Michael Frazier, 6’5” shooting guard (Florida): He could have been a second-round steal. He is as good a pure shooter as you will find in this draft (despite the 38 percent from three last season, due in part to an ankle injury; it was 46 percent the two years before) and he is a hard-working defender on the perimeter. He’s not a versatile, multi-position guy, but he can fill a role in the NBA.

Robert Upshaw, 7’0” center (Washington): The second round should be about taking gambles on players who have potential but are flawed. That is Upshaw — he has big time skills but has been dismissed from two college programs (last season Washington cut him loose mid-season). He moves well and was the nation’s leading shot blocker before Washington abruptly dismissed him last season. He has the tools to be a defensive and rebounding force. But he’s got a lot to prove physically and mentally. He has signed on to play Summer League for the Los Angeles Lakers.

One late draft trade: Memphis sends Jon Leuer to Phoenix in exchange for draft rights to Andrew Harrison

Jon Leuer
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In one late draft night trade, the Phoenix Suns got a little bigger, and the Memphis Grizzlies added another point guard, potentially.

The trade sent big man Jon Leuer from Memphis to Phoenix in exchange for the draft rights to Andrew Harrison, who the Suns had taken with the No. 44 pick.

Leuer is a big who is supposed to be able to shoot from the outside and stretch the floor, but he struggled with his shot this past season and seemed tentative even when open. He averaged  4.5 points per game in a limited for Memphis last season, one that shrunk as the season wore on. He shot 46.9 percent from three two seasons ago maybe he can find that form again in Phoenix’s offense.

It’s a little tough to see where Harrison will get minutes in Memphis. Harrison is a big, strong point guard who knows how to use that size to bull his way to the rim, plus he can defend the one and the two. But there are questions about his handles and decision making — and the Grizzlies are loaded at the point with Mike Conley, Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes in the mix.

It was a little trade on a night that was supposed to be filled with big, exciting trades, but mostly fizzled out on that end. This kind of trade was sadly more the norm.