Landry Shamet's rise further pressures Sixers to re-sign Tobias Harris

23-05-2019 05:05

It just so happens that Tobias Harris may have the Philadelphia 76ers right where he wants them…

On Tuesday, the NBA announced its All-Rookie First and Second Teams, and one name in particular stands out for, both for general manager Elton Brand and Sixers fans: Landry Shamet.

In February, Shamet was among the pieces sent to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Harris, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Coincidentally, on the same day that Shamet was announced as a member of the All-Rookie Second Team, reports indicated that at least some of Harris’ potential suitors have become known. The Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz were among the clubs mentioned, and Shamet’s emergence as a building block in Los Angeles may work in Harris’ favor.

The fact of the matter is that in trading away a bevy of assets which included Shamet and four future draft picks, Brand sold the Sixers’ future promise for an opportunity to win in the more immediate future. Given Joel Embiid’s inability to remain healthy to this point, trading away some future assets to improve the teams’ odds of winning today makes sense.

Allowing Harris to leave after just five months with the team, though, wouldn’t, especially with Shamet’s emergence with the Clippers.

If, for some reason, Harris weren’t re-signed by the club, Shamet would have essentially been traded away for nothing.

In all fairness to Philadelphia, both Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott were each also acquired in the trade which brought Harris to the Sixers, but the deal was always about Harris. As a result, the Sixers have been put in the precarious predicament of almost needing to re-sign Harris at all costs, even if only to save face.

What makes matters even worse in this circumstance is the fact that Harris will be an unrestricted free agent, meaning that Philadelphia lacks a right of first refusal or, frankly, any say in whether or not he decides to stay or go. It’s pretty easy to see, at least in terms of leverage, that he has the franchise exactly where he would want them. Shamet’s emergence plays a tiny bit of a role in that.

Fortunately for Brett Brown, the evidence suggests that Harris fit seamlessly in with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, even if he was somewhat inconsistent. As the first option as a member of the Clippers, Harris averaged 20.9 points per game, compared to just 18.2 points per game as a member with the Sixers. Being that he was the team’s third offensive option, however, the dip in his individual scoring was quite predictable. In particular, he mostly found ways to be effective without the ball, which is a talent in and of itself.

The question is the extent to which the Sixers are willing to pay to keep him around.

This summer, like Jimmy Butler, Harris will be eligible to sign a five-year, $190 million contract to stay. While there’s not much reason to believe that Philadelphia would approach that figure to retain him, the Sixers don’t seem to have many options in this situation. That’s especially true considering the fact that with an extension for Ben Simmons on the horizon, it will be difficult for the team to manufacture the necessary cap space to find an adequate replacement on the open market.

In all likelihood, as is common in these types of situations, Brand has had discussions with Harris’ representatives and was likely given permission to do so by the Clippers even before executing the trade. Being that both he and managing partner Josh Harris have been steadfast and consistent in their declarations that the team intends to re-sign him, it likely means that the front office knows what kind of sum it will take to keep Harris in Philadelphia and are likely to acquiesce to his salary demands.

Still, in the end, with losing him being a terrible optic, the fact that Harris will become unrestricted and will have the opportunity to test the open market has to have Philadelphia squirming, even if a little bit…

But certainly more so with Shamet emerging as a building block out West.

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