As we complain about our local guys, it could be worse. Pacers beat writer for Indy Star wrote an article on small markets, using Tobias Harris as key point of his story, then botches details of Harris contract.
NEW BEGINThat's what Tobias Harris wanted -- to compete for a title -- and the money.
The Pacers tried to pursue Harris, who's family has deep ties to the franchise's late/great Mel Daniels, but they failed to set up a meeting not because he wasn't interested in a small market. It was because, league sources tell IndyStar, Harris only would meet with teams that could present him with a max term offer sheet.
That was his line in the sand.
An exploratory call from the Pacers wasn't turned down. Given the other holes on the roster they had to fill, they knew they lacked the buy-in chips for the Harris sweepstakes.
There's an upside to all of this. Among the seven teams that were prepared to give Harris a max term offer sheet were New Orleans, Sacramento and Utah -- all small markets he'd scheduled to meet. The Jazz were near the top of his wish list but they went off the board when they traded for Conley and his $30 million-plus-a-year salary. Denver, not a big market but the No. 2 team in the conference last season, was of particular interest to Harris but the Nuggets couldn't offer the max after picking up Paul Millsap's $30 million option.
Harris ended up not meeting with anyone after the Philadelphia 76ers, who'd traded for him during the season, came through as promised with a max offer for $141 million over four years on June 30.
No one got a meeting.
The strong culture established by Pritchard and McMillan made them worth the look. But with Harris in his physical prime, he wants to compete for a championship now. The Pacers aren't there yet.
Market size and off-the-court opportunities were not disqualifying factors for a second-tier free agent such as Harris.