Last week, SNY’s Ian Begley reported that the Knicks had talked internally about trading for Tobias Harris, a New York native playing for the division-rival Philadelphia 76ers. Harris is a 30-year-old veteran forward who flirted with All-Star-caliber play before nestling in a contributing role on a perennial contender.
New York is expected to be active in trade talks, but Harris is a surprising name, considering he doesn’t quite fit the profile of a typical Knicks target. The good news is that he may not meet the asking price of a regular Knicks target.
Let’s dive into what a Harris trade might look like.
Harris is currently averaging 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 56.8% shooting from two and 39.4% shooting from three. He excelled as Philly’s end-scorer when one of their stars takes advantage of the defense, with the ability to shoot, drive, post and create in the mid-range area. He’s also a solid defender and can play any forward position, a player archetype the Knicks lack.
In short, Harris is a very good player — one who would improve the Knicks’ wing depth, of course. It’s unclear if Philadelphia has an interest in trading him given the adjustment, but if clearing the cap room or his rotational spot is a priority, it’s not outlandish to consider.
How much of an upgrade would it be for the Knicks? Having a great wing defender is a big help, but may not be necessary if Reddish cam were allowed to play. Quentin Grimes‘par-36 numbers challenge Harris’ (12.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists on 60.9% shooting with two and 36.7% shooting with three) and his defense is arguably better .
Harris should be three full-time with Julius Randle at the forefront, unless they plan to use a new, smaller formation with Randle in the center. it moves either RJ Barrett or Grimes on the bench, unless Harris becomes a super-sub.
Becoming the Knicks’ sixth man would allow New York to maintain the chemistry of their starting lineup, give their most fragile bench unit a major boost, and propel Harris to more control of the offense in his minutes. It is certainly an interesting proposition if the head coach Tom Thibodeau can remove it.
Much would depend on the outgoing package, but obviously the fit isn’t clean and the benefits aren’t overwhelming. The Knicks should then make it a value play by getting rid of unwanted goods.
Harris owes $39 million next season before his contract expires, hurting his trade market but possibly providing an opportunity for the Knicks. They can match that huge salary with Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose and Reddish, three players they took out of the healthy rotation who would have bought.
If the 76ers accepted a package around those three and some slight draft compensation, the Knicks would add a very strong wing at no cost to their core. Again, Philly’s taste for something like this is unknown, and they could very easily ask for more.
In this case, the Knicks will have decisions to weigh. Maybe they need to move Obi Toppin to make Harris their new replacement four plus, as he wouldn’t find much playing time alongside him.
In any combination, it would clearly be a short-term, winning upgrade for the Knicks, adding experience to a young roster. Harris could absolutely bring the skill and courage to break New York’s record of a few wins, even win them a playoff or playoff game.
The question is at what cost and to what end in the long run? If he supplants Grimes in the starting lineup, it’s a demotion to a prized prospect playing a very good ball. Are a few wins worth a future pick or current prospect, when Harris can just be out in a year and a half?
New York will need to consider these factors to make its mark this trade season. Looking for a regular upgrade from the franchise-altering blockbuster is a good idea, but will they perform and do it effectively?