Two basic facts about free agency tie into this latest rumor: 1) NBA front offices “internally discuss” a lot of players, it’s a core part of preparing for any eventuality; 2) The Knicks are always going to be tied to major moves.
That brings us to the latest report, via Ian Begley of SNY.tv: The Knicks have had internal discussions about a Tobias Harris trade.
“The Knicks have talked internally about the idea of acquiring Tobias Harris via trade before their winning streak started… Tom Thibodeau spoke highly of him before the game, so that’s just one name to keep an eye on.”
Harris would help the Knicks, he is a solid scoring wing who creates his own shot, finishes well through contact, is shooting 40.5% from 3 and is a solid defender. He’s consistent and averaging 16.7 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.
But there are a few reasons this trade doesn’t make sense for New York (or likely Philadelphia).
First, if the Knicks are saving their trade assets to go for swings at a couple of franchise-changing players — and they wouldn’t throw all their assets in at Donovan Mitchell — why are they going after Harris? He’s a solid player but should be the third- or fourth-best option on a contender. He’s not the level of player the Knicks need.
Second, Harris is a score-first combo forward, where the Knicks are already playing Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. While we can talk about how far New York can go with that pair at the 3/4, is Harris even much of an upgrade?
Third, Harris makes a lot of money — $37.6 million this season and fully guaranteed $39.3 million next season, the final two years on his max contract. That’s where the Knicks want to spend their cap space? (That salary is why the 76ers would be open to a Harris trade; they have looked for one to save money.) Harris’ salary makes a trade more difficult. Technically an Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose (plus likely a second-round pick) for Harris works on paper, but why would Philly even consider giving up a wing to add to an already deep guard rotation (James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, De'Anthony Melton, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle)? Harris helps the Sixers win, Rose and Fournier are out of the rotation on the team Philly just beat on Christmas Day.
Finally, Philadelphia has won eight straight and is starting to look like a threat to the top teams in the East. The 76ers went all-in with win-now moves in the offseason (P.J Tucker, Melton) and they are thinking about playing into late May and June — Harris helps with that. He’s a quality two-way wing (he’s overpaid, but he’s still good). The 76ers are all-in on this season, then they will reassess everything — including Harden — this offseason. For now, it’s about winning.
All of which is to say, Tobias Harris isn’t going to the Knicks, barring some big changes between now and the trade deadline.
But sure, the Knicks talked about him internally.