Tennessee freshman Tobias Harris to me symbolizes a lot of what we see in this draft — it’s a question of fit.
He says he’s a three and he seemed more comfortable there in college, but there are questions if he is athletic enough to do that on the NBA level plus he only hit 30.3 percent from three (although he hit 50 percent early in the season). Teams thought of him as a four but at 6’8” he’s a big undersized for that position (although he had a good vertical of 37 at the NBA Draft Combine. Basically, he’s a tweener.
Whatever you call him, Harris can play, but you have to put him on a team where his talents will fit in.
He’s a versatile player and averaged 15.3 points a game, most importantly he was consistent on the court for a Tennessee team that had plenty of off-the-court distractions. He also played his best basketball late, averaging 21 points a game in March.
That versatility has advantages — he is a good ball handler who makes smart decisions. He can score at the rim. DraftExpress called him one of those guys who is very good at taking what the defense gives him. Those kind of guys seem to find a way to adapt in the NBA and make an impact.
But he needs to be used properly. Put him on a fast-paced team where he can handle the ball or make the right play in transition. Put him on a team that uses a lot of motion in its half court sets (think Jerry Sloan Jazz flex sets) where his versatility and hoops IQ can be put to use.
That’s how I feel about a lot of guys in this draft — they have skills that if used in the right system can help teams. But it’s a question of how he develops over time as to how he really works out.
Steve Alexander at NBC’s Rotoworld has him going No. 18 to the Wizards (a team that plays up tempo and should play more that way next season, so there is a fit). DraftExpress says No. 19 to the Bobcats, Chad Ford at ESPN thinks No. 22 to the Nuggets (another good fit).
And now the spin starts….
Yesterday we told you how Celtics lead assistant coach Lawrence Frank was an early front-runner in the search for a new head coach at Tennessee. Frank used to be an assistant coach there before going on to the NBA.
Now the spin comes back that university officials were only talking to Frank as a consultant on the job search, sources told A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England. To get his input on other people interested in the job that might be a good fit.
Right. If that is all you think was going on I want to sell you tickets to a special dinner engagement with Tupac and Elvis.
This is how a coaching search works: Frank (and/or his agent) will be contacted through back channels by unofficial university representatives to gauge if there is interest and a fit well before any official contact is made. So, maybe the official Vols contact with Frank was to ask who he thought would be a good replacement for the recently canned Bruce Pearl, but it came with subtext.
Of course, there are a lot of reasons Frank may want to only recommend others for that job. It’s a football school, the basketball program is about to get slapped with NCAA sanctions, and Frank is knee deep with the Celtics right now and will be for a couple more months, meaning the job would sit vacant for a long time before he steps in. Oh, and there’s the fact he likely will get another shot at an NBA job in the coming years (maybe with Boston, depending on what Doc Rivers decides to do).
But officially, Frank is a consultant. That’s today’s story.
Wanted: A head coach for a primarily football school to follow in the footsteps of the best, most charismatic coach the university has had in half a century, a guy who won and connected with fans. A guy who bought tickets. Oh, and you’ll have to duplicate that despite sanctions coming from the NCAA.
So, who wants to coach Tennessee?
How about Lawrence Frank?
The Celtics lead assistant is considered one of the front runners for the job, reports A. Sherrod Blakely at CSN New England (Alex Kennedy at Hoopsworld broke it on twitter).
Frank does have ties to Knoxville, he was an assistant coach there (under Kein O’Neill), and there is still a fondness for the university that has him at least considering the job, Blakely said.
But there are a lot of things in the way. First and foremost, Frank is not leaving the Celtics until they are out of the playoffs, and that will be late May at the earliest and maybe June. Does Tennessee want a vacancy for two months?
Then there is the NBA, where rank is very likely to get another shot. That shot could be in Boston if Doc Rivers leaves at the end of this season. That is not a sure thing, but if he doesn’t get that job he will get interviews this summer as other teams go on a coaching search.
Do you want to leave another shot in the NBA for a college gig where sanctions are going to make winning very challenging for a few years?
Unless he really wants the college coach lifestyle, it’s hard to see to see Frank taking the gig. But it’s out there.