Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish: Tobias Harris an intriguing possibility

Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

A new week begins with the Monday edition of the Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish, where we unabashedly daydream about a potential free agent target.

In the Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish to kick off the Thanksgiving week, we ponder the possibilities of adding a premier stretch 4 to the mix next season.

Young veteran Tobias Harris continues to get better in this, his eighth NBA season.

He is putting up career-best numbers almost across the board through the first 15 games of the season for the LA Clippers and he put on a show at Barclays Center Saturday night as the Clips came from behing to beat the Nets.

Harris had a season-high 27 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists on 11-of-17 shooting while going 2-for-4 from 3-point range on Saturday.

For the season, he’s averaging 20.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 35.0 minutes per game while shooting .513/.418/.808, with everything but the assists and free throw shooting at a pace to set new career-highs.

Many moons ago, Harris was New York’s Mr. Basketball as a senior at Half Hollow Hills West High School in Dix Hills on Long Island before averaging 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in his lone season at the University of Tennessee and entering the NBA Draft.

The Charlotte Bobcats took Harris with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and his rights were part of a three-team deal on draft night, going with Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston to the Milwaukee Bucks.

This was the same deal that sent Jimmer Fredette‘s draft rights from the Bucks to the Sacramento Kings.

Harris’ early development was delayed by the lockout that offseason, as rookies were prevented from signing contracts or working out at team facilities until the week before Christmas.

The Bucks gave up on Harris quickly and sent him to the Orlando Magic in February 2013 as part of the package that brought Milwaukee a two-month rental of J.J. Redick.

Finally getting some playing time upon his arrival in Orlando, Harris emerged as a solid 15 to 16 points per game scoring threat who could stretch the floor a little, but not much (he shot 32.0 percent from 3-point range while with the Magic).

As a restricted free agent in 2015, Harris re-signed with Orlando for four years and $64 million, but in February 2016 was traded to the Detroit Pistons for their playoff push.

He played parts of three seasons with the Pistons, averaging nearly 17 points per game, with his deep shooting improving to 37.6 percent, before he was swapped to the Clippers in January’s blockbuster deal that sent Blake Griffin to Motown.

Harris is thriving under Doc Rivers in LA, averaging 19.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists and shooting .485/.415/.803 since the trade.

In short, he’s the stretch 4 the Brooklyn Nets would kill to have. Brian Lewis of the New York Post explored that possibility since Harris will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Harris was appropriately non-committal.

"“I’m just focused on the team I put a jersey on every single night for. I don’t think it’d be fair if my mind was somewhere else at this time.”"

Harris is interested in remaining with the Clippers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (subscription required), and coach Doc Rivers would love to keep Harris in LA.

Still, it’s very much worth making a run at Harris because he would be such a terrific fit in Brooklyn’s system.

The ‘Atlantic Division’? How quaint

Frank Isola  of The Athletic (subscription required) went in depth on a piece about how New York’s teams are losing the battle for star talent in the Atlantic Division.

Isola looked at how far ahead the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers are in assembling star-caliber talent.

Isola’s not wrong, of course, but talking about the Atlantic Division as if it’s something that is a thing beyond scheduling convenience is so 2014-15. That, of course, was the last season the NBA rewarded division champions with any sort of seeding perks.

But after the 51-win Portland Trail Blazers were awarded the fourth seed in the Western Conference Playoffs in 2015, which pushed the 55-win San Antonio Spurs all the way to the No. 6 seed and a matchup with the 56-win Clippers (seeded third), the NBA eliminated any perks for division champs.

The divisions remain, sort of, but only in the fact that for scheduling purposes teams play their old division rivals four times each season. So it’s sort of a dated way of looking at the overall scheme of things.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility, given the makeup of NBA schedules, that a division could be shut out of the playoffs entirely. If/when that happens, depending on how much influence the owner of the jilted division “champion” wields, it could lead to yet another format change.

For the record, I won’t get on board the “seed regardless of conference” idea until the schedules are more balanced — 52 games against the East and 30 games against the West is a far different animal than 52 against the West and 30 against the East, so seeding by record alone won’t be an accurate measure of teams’ relative strength.

Allen, Crabbe singled out

In a piece for Newsday, Brian Heyman pointed to Saturday’s strong performances from Allen Crabbe and Jarrett Allen against the LA Clippers.

This is how bad Crabbe’s slump has been — we’re showering the guy with praise for making almost half of his shots and scoring 15 points.

Allen, on the other hand, was terrific with a career-high 24 points to go with 11 rebounds. Coach Kenny Atkinson was effusive about Allen in the post-game.

"“Fantastic. He was all over the place. I should’ve played him more. He was really good. Both boards. His offensive rebounding has been unexpected and a pleasant surprise. If he can keep that up, it’s going to really help us.”"

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Allen’s development from his rookie year to his second season has been one of the major highlights for the Nets thus far this season.