Tobias Harris Traded to Pistons for Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova

Tyler ConwayFeatured Columnist

Feb 5, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) drives into Los Angeles Clippers forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (right) during the first quarter of a basketball game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a year after signing Tobias Harris to a four-year, $64 million contract in free agency, the Orlando Magic have traded their young forward. 

ESPN's Chris Broussard reported Harris has been traded to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. TNT's David Aldridge confirmed the news.

Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops first reported the two sides were discussing a swap.

Harris, 23, is averaging 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds through his first 49 games this season.  

Those scoring numbers mark a significant downturn from 2014-15, when Harris averaged 17.1 points and appeared ready to break out. A good part of his decreased scoring output can be blamed on usage. He's taking three fewer shots per game and is setting a career low in usage rate. After hovering around 22 percent each of the last three seasons, Harris has dipped all the way to 19.1.

"It’s hard to see through the veil of coachspeak that we’ve come to accept from our modern athletes," Will Ogburn wrote for the Orlando Pinstriped Post. "The blogosphere would explode if a franchise player came out and flatly said, 'I’m having problems with my confidence,' but sometimes the numbers speak for themselves."

Harris' numbers crumpled across the board during Orlando's miserable January, a month in which the Magic won just twice. He had one 20-point game, shot 29.2 percent from three-point range and saw nearly all of his per-game averages dip to season lows. 

Three-point shooting has been Harris' biggest problem. A year after seemingly emerging as a reliable option from deep—his 36.4 percent rate wasn't great but is more than passable—he's regressed back to his career mean. His 31.1 percent clip is almost perfectly in line with his NBA average (31.8 percent). With the Orlando lineup already featuring non-elite shooters like Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, Harris' progress from deep was seen as critical to Orlando's development into a playoff contender.

There's still plenty of reason for Orlando to expect a considerable haul in exchange for Harris. First of all, he's a skilled 6'9" forward who can play either the 3 or the 4 who doesn't turn 24 until July. Second, his underlying numbers suggest Harris has been better than advertised. Scott Skiles has done wonders to make him a better defender, and his win-shares-per-48-minutes average is the best of his career.

So even if Harris isn't making the offensive leap most expected, it would be unfair to say he's gotten worse, and he should only benefit from playing next to Andre Drummond in the middle.


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