June 20, 2019
The NBA world will turns its attention away from the frenzy of free agency briefly on Thursday night for the 2019 draft, where the Philadelphia 76ers have a late first-round pick and several second-rounders.
While the Sixers hope to pick up a serviceable player to add to their rotation, the biggest questions of the offseason still hinge on whether free agents Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris will return.
Both players are expected to draw major interest around the league, while the Sixers have to strongly consider the financial commitment of bringing them back together on max contracts.
There has been a sense that Harris, of the two, will be the harder player to convince to stay in Philadelphia. Some of that stems from his fit in the offense and a relative dip in his numbers after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers.
At the end of the season, Harris emphasized the importance of joining a team where he best fits the style of play on the court.
For the first time since then, Harris spoke to reporters on Wednesday about his free agency plans and his experience in Philadelphia. He and Joel Embiid were both attending The Steve Nash Foundation Showdown, a charitable soccer event hosted by the former NBA star.
“We were a couple bounces away from going to overtime versus the champs now," Harris said, via Forbes. "We didn’t have enough time to really get the full chemistry as we probably would have wanted to. But at the same time, it’s one of the most talented groups of players I’ve been a part of."
Embiid sat by Harris' side and needled him with a question of his own.
Tobias Harris spoke to reporters here at the Steve Nash Showdown when Joel Embiid chimed in.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 19, 2019
Embiid: “You gonna stay in Philly?” 😂
Harris: “My guy right here.” pic.twitter.com/WsCYUGmFWt
"He’s the best big man in the NBA," Harris said of Embiid. "So the talent level of the group was phenomenal and we put ourselves in the position to win basketball games."
Asked once again what matters most to him, Harris said a lot of things that align with what the Sixers have to offer.
“A great organization," Harris said. "Obviously winning’s important for me, star players are important, and just putting myself in the right opportunity to continue to improve my game and get better year in and year out."
Harris seemed to downplay the idea that his ties to Long Island and the draw of home will sway him toward the Brooklyn Nets, where he's been linked in recent weeks.
“Location is location," he said, "but at the same time those things are presently first for me.”
Other teams that have been rumored to want Harris include the Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings.
NBA free agency officially begins June 30, so we're not far off from learning how the Sixers plan to improve on last year's squad.