Tobias Harris is a nice player, averaging 17 points and 6.3 rebounds in 34.8 minutes per game for the Magic this season, while shooting 36.1 percent from three-point distance.
But is he a max player?
Harris will be a restricted free agent this summer, and if Magic GM Rob Hennigan is to be believed, the team is prepared to match any offer Harris receives — no matter how steep the price.
From Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:
Magic GM Rob Hennigan says the club “intends” to bring back F Tobias Harris – a restricted free agent – “no matter what” the cost this summer. At $15 mill per year? Seeing is believing.
This is fairly earth-shaking news. Hennigan wouldn’t pay Harris what he wanted – near max money – when they talked contract before the season.
Now Hennigan is telling the league he’ll essentially match any offer. He could make Harris the team’s highest-paid player, exceeding Nik Vucevic’s $13-million per year. He must have a hunch that the market for Harris won’t be outrageous.
The funny part is that Hennigan – who guards information like launch codes and rarely speaks to us media scoundrels – talked about Harris on a conference call to season-ticket holders.
It’s possible that Hennigan means what he says, especially when considering the fact that max contracts handed out this summer — before the salary cap spikes nearly $30 million in advance of the 2016-17 season — could end up seeming like bargains in the very near future.
But what’s more likely is that Hennigan is doing what every GM does with regard to their team’s restricted free agents.
The plan is to lead everyone to believe that a team will simply match any offer the player receives, in order to discourage teams from tying up available cap space by signing a player to an offer sheet during the early days of the free agent frenzy.
We saw this play out with both Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe last summer, when neither player could get signed to a max-level offer sheet that would force their current teams to match.
The Magic had the chance to offer Harris piles of money on a contract extension before the season began, but ultimately passed; we’ll see if anything changes this summer.