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.