I would like to start this off by saying if you have not read the Athletic’s piece on the Tobias Harris trade by Jovan Buha, I highly recommend it as I’m going to include some points discussed in his article.
Late last night the news broke that the Los Angeles Clippers had traded Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to the Philadelphia 76ers for Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Philadelphia’s 2020 first-round pick (lottery protected for three seasons), the Miami Heat ‘s unprotected 2021 first-round pick and two second-round picks from Philadelphia in 2021 and 2023.
I’ll start off by saying this is an excellent trade for both teams, but I ultimately like it more for one than I do the other (I’ll get into this later). What Philadelphia has done with this trade, in my eyes, puts them right up there with Toronto, Milwaukee, and (eventually) Boston. A projected starting lineup of Simmons, Redick, Butler, Harris, and Embiid can run teams off of the court in the blink of an eye.
Harris provides the starting lineup with something that it desperately needed: more shooting. Harris is shooting a whopping 43.4% from downtown this year while shooting at a pretty high volume (a little under 5 three’s per game). His shooting will be a huge bonus to the 76ers, who pretty much relied on JJ Redick’s outside shooting to carry them in that area. It’s also of note that Joel Embiid might be more effective now given that defenses probably can’t double him in the post with 3 (Harris, Redick, and Butler) great-to-good shooters on the court.
Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will both be free agents this summer and Philadelphia would like (really must) retain both. Trading two future first-round picks and an asset or two for a guy and simply letting him walk is really out of the picture. Tobias Harris turned down a 4 year/$80 million extension from the Clippers last summer, meaning he’ll likely expect to get more than that from Philly.
I think there’s a greater chance that the team won’t bring back Butler, due to his age (29) and the cloud of drama he seems to bring to every team he plays on. That being said, it’s been reported that the team wants to keep both Butler and Harris, and envisions a big 4 with Simmons, Butler, Harris, and Embiid.
Now let’s talk about the trade from the Clippers’ side. I’d to say off the bat that I loved this trade for the Clippers. Yes, it hurts getting rid of arguably your best player when the team is in the hunt for the playoffs. Yes, it hurt losing Boban Marjanovic before John Wick 3 comes out. All these things considered, what LAC did in this trade was brilliant to me.
There are three major things this trade did for the Clippers. One, Los Angeles will most likely be able to retain their first-round draft pick this summer, as it’s lottery-protected for 2019 and 2020. This might not seem like a huge deal, but it leads into the second major thing LA did in this trade: position themselves to land Anthony Davis.
It’d be kind of funny to me if Davis did end up in LA but it was with the Clippers, rather than the Lakers. This past week it was stated that the four teams Davis would resign with were the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Bucks. LAC, being one of these four teams, can make a great offer to New Orleans. I wouldn’t expect them to do this today or tomorrow (the NBA Trade Deadline is tomorrow at 3 pm est), but the Clippers could trade for Davis this summer.
Trading for Davis would be even nicer if the team already had a superstar to pair him with. With the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson all being free-agents this summer, the Clippers are going to swing for the fences in an attempt to get a star. Let’s say that somehow, Kevin Durant ends up signing with the Clippers this summer. The team could then move to consolidate assets (some of which they got for Harris) and trade for Davis while also not compromising the integrity of the team like the Lakers are doing.
If Kevin Durant signs elsewhere, there’s another player LAC will target: Kawhi Leonard. This bleeds into my third point about this trade: sending Harris to a team that’s not Toronto gives them a better chance at signing Kawhi Leonard. How? Well, let’s say that the 76ers play the Raptors in the playoffs this year. A team with Simmons, Harris, Butler, and Embiid is going to be a really tough out, and I think could upset the Raptors. If this happens, it’s hard to see Leonard staying with the Raptors this summer. Signing with the Clippers, a team that’s in LA, seems like an obvious move. Therefore, by sending him to the 76ers, it *could* help them land another superstar this summer.
There’s a chance that the Clippers will still make the playoffs, not get a superstar this summer nor trade for Anthony Davis. Yet, the chance for all 3 of these things do not occur is unlikely now due to the brilliance of the Clippers’ front office. Jerry West pulled off a move last night that could ultimately be one of the best trades we’ve seen in a while if things go right. If not, they still received two future first-round picks for a player who will be a free agent this summer. Unlike what New York just did with Kristaps Porzingis, LA isn’t mortgaging their future on the 2019 free-agent class. They may hit, they may not. The point is that the Clippers made a smart move to potentially win the jackpot this summer, but didn’t sell their soul to do it.