The waiting game continues for restricted free agent Maurice Harkless and the Trail Blazers, as the two sides are “not any closer” to reaching a deal according to his agent, Happy Walters.
Walters says several teams have shown interest in Harkless, but the small forward wants to re-sign with Portland. However, talks with the Blazers have shown “no movement” in recent days.
Walters said there is a chance Harkless will accept the one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2016-2017 season.
“He’s in no rush,” to make a decision, Walters said.
This is a tough situation for both sides.
Crabbe, Leonard and Harkless had such low cap holds, Portland could splurge on Evan Turner before using Bird Rights to re-sign its own free agents. That has left the Trail Blazers just about $9 million shy of the luxury-tax line. Harkless probably deserves more than $9 million, but the Blazers might not be willing to dip into the tax for him.
Harkless surely wants more than his $4,045,894 qualifying offer, but accepting that and becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2017 might be preferable to locking into relatively small multi-year deal now. Harkless is just 23, so he’s unlikely to fall off next season — but Turner will eat into his minutes.
Meanwhile, other teams are spending what’s left of their cap space. How many can still offer the contract he desires? How many would, considering they haven’t already?
It’s tough to see what sparks an end to this standoff with the Oct. 1 expiration of Harkless’ qualifying offer so far off.