San Antonio Spurs: Considering Tobias Harris and Boban in 2019 Free Agency
By Dylan Carter
As Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic move on to their third destination together, the San Antonio Spurs should consider signing the dynamic duo in the offseason.
Before his internet fame and run in with John Wick, Boban Marjanovic was a terrifying prospect blooming under Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Well before the rest of the league caught on, Boban provided astounding highlights and hilarious quips to the Alamo City.
When time came for Marjanovic to sign a new contract, Pop encouraged the fan favorite to take a larger contract elsewhere to provide for himself and his family. Boban embarked to the tundra of Detroit and entered a glorious friendship with fringe All-Star Tobias Harris.
The tandem was shipped off to their third destination late on Tuesday evening. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harris, Marjanovic and Mike Scott were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala and two future draft picks. By parting with their assets and securing a formidable wing, Philadelphia secured an insurance policy for rambunctious shooting guard Jimmy Butler.
There’s a chance that both Tobias and Boban find a long term fit in Philly, but there are many moving parts to consider. The 76ers long term plan focuses primarily on the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, so their No. 1 priority is to keep them happy. If Harris wants to become part of something new and find security, then San Antonio is the perfect landing spot.
It’ll take some work on the part of general manager R.C. Buford, but the Spurs can find alternative methods to clear cap space ahead of the 2019 Free Agency to bring the NBA’s favorite pair of friends to San Antonio.
Next: Harris is San Antonio’s ideal third star
Harris is San Antonio’s ideal third star
Great things come in threes, especially within the lore and history of the San Antonio Spurs. While the modern era of basketball has empowered player movement and freedom of choice, it’s also damaged some of the ideals of competitiveness that surged the NBA through the nineties and early 2000s. Few teams continue to embody the idealistic sense of camaraderie in the way this core of Spurs does.
Harris is the missing link that could elevate this core from playoff hopefuls to playoff contenders. As one of the game’s most efficient scorers and calculated decision-makers, Harris has displayed a uniquely foundational understanding of the game’s fundamentals. With a team-oriented play style and commitment to winning, Harris can easily slide in as the Spurs’ starting small forward to propel the team to new heights.
After years of journeying throughout the NBA, Harris is in a position to command a max contract and lock down his future. The 26-year-old has been traded more in his eight seasons than most players are in the entirety of their careers, so Harris deserves to sign with a team that will prioritize his long-term health, development and opportunity to compete for a championship. He’s run away with his high usage in Los Angeles, posting career-best averages in points, rebounds, assists, field goal attempts and three-point attempts.
How many players as good as Tobias Harris been traded this many times before age 27?
Traded on draft night, then traded by Bucks, then Magic, then Pistons, now Clippers. No character issues, keeps getting better, 5th team and still 26. Averaging 21 + 8, 50% FG, 43% 3PT.
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) February 6, 2019
Harris is one of the most efficient three-point shooters in the league, connecting on 43.4 percent from behind the arc. His 60.5 percent true shooting percentages puts him in the upper echelon of efficiency for scorers at his position, making him a natural fit under Gregg Popovich’s system.
Shooting is completely necessary for the third star in San Antonio, especially when considering their two stars’ inability to space the floor. Nothing is impossible with the help of shooting coach Chip Engelland but as of now, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are non-factors from behind the arc. They’ll need their third star to be a high-volume three-point shooter to keep up with the league’s current trend while maintaining their identity.
Next: Filling gaps in the rotation
Filling gaps in the rotation
Bringing Bobi and Tobi to San Antonio would be another step toward solidifying the Spurs as the deepest team in the league. With some promising players on rookie deals, general manager R.C. Buford has some roster flexibility in the coming summer, especially when considering the team’s possession of two first round draft picks.
Although no deal was completed before the trade deadline, it’s been reported that the Spurs were actively looking to offload Pau Gasol’s contract at the deadline. Clearing his money should become easier later into the deal so the Spurs may be able to fill that roster spot by the start of free agency. Boban is more of a utility player whose minutes fluctuate based on matchup and game script, so he won’t command an overwhelming contract on the open market.
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Harris’ contact would be tricky and requires some financial creativity on Buford’s part. While his name may not carry the weight of a Kevin Durant or a Jimmy Butler, he is the free agent wing on the market that makes most the sense in San Antonio based on fit and mentality. Buford needs to clear roughly $25 million in cap space, which is plausible as long as the team is willing to part with Patty Mills.
Keeping Rudy Gay on the roster as a sixth man would be ideal, but it wouldn’t be out of the question to let him walk in free agency to secure Harris’ spot with the team. It’s important for the Spurs to remain intact with their current core, but sacrifices will need to be made. Quincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham are both on expiring deals, so their cap space will clear up quickly.
With Pau presumably gone next season, the Spurs will be thin in the front court with Jakob Poeltl as the sole remaining center.
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While the pathway to Harris and Marjanovic joining the Spurs is frayed, the dream can easily become reality.