When the Los Angeles Clippers decided to trade away Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson and Willie Reed to the Detroit Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and two draft picks midway through last season, the shock revolved solely around one player.
It was astounding to see Griffin, the face of the Clippers and a popular figure due to his perennial All-Star status and off-court pursuits, get traded from the team he signed a maximum extension with last summer.
On paper, it also seemed like Detroit won the deal since they now had one of the best frontcourts in the NBA: Griffin and Andre Drummond.
However, due to Harris’ play in Los Angeles, he managed to flip the script. Not only did he prove to be a fantastic fit within coach Doc Rivers’ system, but he arguably served as an upgrade over Griffin.
Griffin averaged 22.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 34.5 minutes over 33 games for LA before getting traded. But, he shot just 44.1 percent from the field, well below his career mark of 50.8 percent. He also averaged 3.0 turnovers per contest.
Harris averaged 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game over 32 contests for the Clippers to close out the campaign. He shot 47.3 percent overall, including 41.4 percent from three-point range for Los Angeles, and therefore proved to be an efficient long-range threat, able to space the floor from either forward position on the offensive end of the court.
While he isn’t exactly heralded for his play on the defensive end, he’s arguably a more capable defender than Griffin was due to his effort, versatility and athleticism.
Entering a contract year, the Clippers were able to offer Harris an extension this summer. Per David Aldridge of TNT, he was recently handed an $80 million offer by LA. But, he turned it down.
Due to the fact that he will be eligible for a five-year, $188 million max offer from the Clippers or a four-year, $145.5 million max deal elsewhere next summer, Harris decided to bet on himself and not take the security of the extension.
It’s worth noting that although Harris has been in the league for seven seasons and has played on four different teams, he’s still only 26 years old and might not have entered his prime yet. If he piggybacks off of his career year in 2017-2018 with another solid campaign, he could be in line for a massive payday next summer, especially with all of the cap room that teams will have due to the high-profile names that will be on the market.
Based on his progression last season, he may even emerge as a max player, a premise that would have sounded shocking in the past since he averaged just 4.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.6 minutes per game during his second NBA season with the Milwaukee Bucks back in 2012-2013.
Ever since the Orlando Magic traded for him and gave him an opportunity to play 35-plus minutes in 2012-2013, he hasn’t looked back and has become an All-Star level talent. That’s a testament to the hard work and dedication that he put into his craft.
Since he bet on himself, he now has even more to play for in the upcoming season.News Now - Sport News