In 2019, Tobias Harris signed a five-year, $180 million contract to remain with the Philadelphia 76ers. At that time, it made him the highest paid player on the Sixers roster, including multiple time All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Since that day, he has been fighting a losing battle.
Tobias Harris gets a lot of criticism in the City of Philadelphia and it is completely understood why. A player getting paid that kind of money at that time was supposed to be the number one player on their respective team. And at that time, Harris was no higher than the third best player on the Sixers roster.
Let’s take a ride back in the time machine to 2011. Tobias Harris was drafted 19th overall out of the University of Tennessee. By his third year in the league, Tobias had become a consistent starter for the Orlando Magic and was averaging 17.3 points per game up from 4.9 the prior year. A lot of this was opportunity on a relatively young Magic team but Harris took advantage of that.
Since he entered the league, Harris has played for four teams prior to joining the Sixers. In each of those cities, he was a middle of the pack starter who knew his role and player it well. He is a career 16 points, six rebounds, and two assists per game player over his 13 years in the league and that is exactly what he is giving this Sixers team now.
Tobias is averaging just north of his aforementioned career statistics this season and has been the only constant for this team through the first three months of the season. So why does he get a bad rep and such a hard time? The answer is 100 percent because of his contract.
Tobias Harris has earned the respect of Sixers fans
Let me ask you, if someone offered to pay you much more for your job than you likely should be getting paid, would you turn it down? Obviously it is a rhetorical question because everyone would answer “No.” Tobias got lucky and was in the right place at the right time. The Sixers were losing Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat and could not afford to have Tobias walk as well. Additionally, the team’s friendly cap space situation combined with the NBA market rate for average starters increasing was a perfect storm.
Do I think if he could go back he would change his mind? Again absolutely not. Tobias knew what he was in for and granted he has not lived up to a $180 million player. But what he has lived up to is a reliable, consistent, team-first player who honestly has been the glue for the last couple seasons here in Philadelphia. He attacks the basket, plays hard defense and can guard almost all five positions. Also as they say, the greatest ability is availability and Tobias is always available!
I am not saying we should go easy on him, but what I think is monumentally important is to take his contract out of the discussion before critiquing him. When you do that, then answer this question. Is Tobias Harris a player that you would want as your fourth best starter on a team with Championship aspirations? The answer for me is unquestionably yes and I would imagine it is for you too.