One of the biggest free-agency bonanzas in NBA history is still nearly six weeks away, but the Kings have already emerged as a potential suitor for a player who will be in high demand.
Sources told The Philadelphia Inquirer the Kings will be among the teams that will try to lure Tobias Harris away from the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. The Inquirer reported the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets are also interested. All five teams can offer Harris a four-year, $141-million maximum-salary contract.
Harris, 26, is a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 20 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Los Angeles Clippers and 76ers this season. He is an elite 3-point shooter and a gifted finisher who would fit nicely with the Kings’ young core and their run-and-gun game.
Harris is capable of filling both forward spots. He is slightly bigger than Kings small forward Harrison Barnes, who has a $25.1 million player option for next season. The Kings experimented with Barnes at power forward after acquiring him from the Mavericks in February, but he was more effective at small forward.
The Kings are reportedly interested in a possible upgrade to Willie Cauley-Stein at the center position and a bigger backup point guard. A move to acquire Harris would signal a potential change in the Kings’ thinking regarding either Barnes or All-Rookie First Team selection Marvin Bagley III.
Former coach Dave Joerger said Bagley was best suited for the power forward position. If Barnes and Harris start at the forward positions next season, Bagley would have to start at center, with De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield in the backcourt.
The 76ers will be reluctant to let Harris walk away after paying a hefty price to acquire him in February. They sent All-Rookie Second Team selection Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and four draft picks, including a protected first-round pick in 2020, to Los Angeles in exchange for Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.
The 76ers acquired Harris’ Bird rights with the trade, giving them the ability to offer him a five-year, $188-million max contract. Philadelphia represents an opportunity to compete for NBA championships with a core consisting of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and Butler, but Harris might decide that’s not the right situation for him. He was a third or fourth option with the 76ers and his 3-point shooting dropped to 32.6 percent after he shot 43.4 percent in 55 games with the Clippers.
Teams can negotiate with free agents beginning July 1, possibly sooner if the NBA moves the start of the moratorium up to 6 p.m. ET on June 30, as ESPN reported could happen last week. Players can not officially sign until the moratorium is lifted July 6.
Some of the best players in the NBA could change teams during this summer’s widely anticipated free-agent frenzy. Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins of the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, Jimmy Butler and Harris of the 76ers, Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic, Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets are among the top players expected to be available.