NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Dallas Mavericks

Tobias Harris Agrees to Four-Year, $64 Million Deal to Stay with Orlando Magic

By Ben Golliver at Sports Illustrated

Restricted free agent forward Tobias Harris has agreed to re-sign with the Magic on a four-year, $64 million contract, according to and The deal, which kicks in for the 2015-16 season and runs through 2018-19, reportedly doesn’t include any options.

“When I first came to the NBA, I wanted to just really be here for more than four years,” Harris told the Orlando Sentinel. “You know, that’s the average expectancy as an NBA player. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be in Orlando, to get an opportunity where I can showcase my game and be on a great team with great teammates and a great organization.”

Harris, 22, averaged 17.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists last season for Orlando, who acquired him from Milwaukee in a 2013 trade. The 2011 first-round pick distinguished himself as a bright spot on one of the league’s worst offenses, becoming one of just four players 22-and-under to average at least 17 points last season. Thanks to a big, physical frame and a developing perimeter game, Harris projects as a lead scoring option capable of playing both forward positions. ranked Harris as the No. 22 player on our “Top 25 Free Agents of 2015” list.

If Harris is going to live up to his $16 million average annual salary, he will need to display better commitment on the defensive end. The Magic’s defense was nearly four points worse with Harris on the court last season, and his -2.21 Defensive Real Plus-Minus ranked No. 77 among small forwards. Harris has all the makings of a talented, multi-threat scorer, but he’s not so talented that he can get away with being a one-way floater.

Financially, Orlando had no major issue paying up to Harris, as the bulk of Orlando’s 2015-16 rotation—Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier and Mario Hezonja—is on low-cost rookie deals. GM Rob Hennigan has been extra prudent during the post-Dwight Howard era, and Harris joins center Nikola Vucevic as the first two youngsters in the pipeline to get paid. Even if Hennigan and his front office weren’t totally sold on Harris as a star in the making, they possessed the flexibility to pay to keep Harris and postpone the “Is he the long-term go-to guy?” question for another year or two.

On the Road: Magic forward Tobias Harris always packs a good book

by Tim Newcomb Even though Harris is one of the league’s most anonymous major-dollar players, Orlando need not be subjected to accusations of overpaying: multiple teams were reportedly lining up with max-type offer sheets, and a similarly strong market should be there down the road if other members of the Magic’s young group emerge as brighter lights. Hennigan and his organization have some sweat equity in Harris, and reason to believe he can blossom into a difference-maker in relatively short order. That’s reason enough to keep him in the fold.


Strictly Business

By Yaron Weitzman of Slam Magazine

What do you want to do tomorrow?” It was 3 in the morning, July 2013, and Tobias Harris was enjoying some eggs, home fries and green tea. He was with one of his brothers, Tyler, and three friends. Harris had turned 21 three hours ago and was at the Candlelight Diner, a favorite spot going back to high school. His friends wanted to know how he planned to spend the sunlit hours of his birthday.

“Go for a run,” he answered, before adding the kicker. “At 6 a.m.”

Harris didn’t drink any alcohol that night. He never does, he says, and his friends back this up. “He probably drank Shirley Temples,” says Chris Cox, a long-time friend. And yet, for obvious reasons, mainly that only crazy people get up early on their 21st birthday to exercise, those at the table thought he was kidding.

A few hours later, at 5:45, Cox, who decided not to set his alarm, was woken up by a call. He answered with a groan.

“You coming or not?” the eager voice on the other end of the line asked. It was Harris. The sun was beginning to rise and yet, there he was, standing on the track of his alma mater, Half Hollow West, waiting for his friend. His request the previous night had, apparently, been a serious one. The Magic had given him some homework for the summer—one of those grueling, arduous circuits where you have to do a bunch of sprints in a certain amount of time and if you come in too slow you do it again—and he didn’t want to miss a day.

Most men spend the morning after their 21st birthday sleeping off a hangover. Tobias Harris spent his on a track.

Harris says he doesn’t show much emotion in public, but right now he’s crying in front of a packed gym. They’re not sad tears, but not really joyful ones, either. It’s just, well, he’s worked so hard to get to where he is today, an NBA player who just completed a season in which he averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds per game, a soon-to-be 23-year-old about to become a restricted free agent and, likely, sign a multi-million dollar deal.

Of course, everyone who makes it to the NBA got there by working hard. With Harris, though, the story’s a bit different.

It starts with his dad, Torrel, who put a ball in his son’s hands six months after he was born. Tobias and his siblings—there are six kids in the family; they all play ball and their names all start with “T”—played on one of those Fisher-Price hoops, until it broke because they dunked on it so much. At 5, Tobias was at the YMCA, where Pops would make him dribble back and forth and shoot lay-ups with both hands.

“The workouts got torturous at times,” Tobias admits. “I probably quit basketball like 50 times when I was younger.” But as he got older, his feelings slowly began to change. “I started getting really good,” he says. “And then it became fun.” He started craving those drills and the feelings they would bring: sweat dripping down his face, his shirt soaked through, his body exhausted and unable to move. In high school he woke up every morning at 5:30 to run two miles. He’d get two more workouts in after school.

Torrel, a former agent, also called upon his friends to inculcate his son. There were summer days working out in the San Antonio home of George Gervin; footwork and fundamentals were the focus there. Dale Ellis went over how to properly hold the ball when taking a shot. Bernard King taught Tobias how to score.

“He was so receptive to all of it,” says Torrel. “And once he got to high school, if he didn’t go hard, then I’d jump on him.”

That’s why on this January night, Harris is crying. He’s just had his high school number retired, and now a banner hangs on one of Half Hollow West’s gym walls. He’s wearing slim dark pants, dark shoes and a fitted wool coat. A gold chain peeks out. He looks slimmer in person than on TV, where his chiseled 6-9, 235-pound body jumps off the screen. With the mic in his hands, Harris begins to dole out thank yous. To his coach, Bill Mitaritonna. To his teammates, many of whom are present. His grin stretches ear to ear.

And then he gets to his parents, Torrel and Lisa, both of whom are standing to his right. Torrel is a house of man, just barely shorter than Tobias but with broader shoulders. He and his wife are holding a framed white jersey with the words HALF HOLLOWS stitched in red. A few sentences in Tobias starts choking up. Then the tears flow.

“I’m not really a crier,” he says later when asked about that moment. “It’s just I get so emotional seeing them up there with me, and so proud of me.

“They pushed me hard, real hard. But it was always in my best interest. It’s because of them that I’m the player—and person—that I am today.”

He’s asked if he ever felt it was too hard. He thinks about that time when he was in third grade and trying out for the fifth grade CYO team. There was a dribbling drill, and Tobias, after losing control of the ball, fled to the bathroom to cry. His father, seeing this, followed him in. Don’t worry about what happened, Torrel told him. Just go back out there and show them what you can do.

“I’ll answer like this,” Tobias says. “If I have a son, my dad’s going to be training him, too.”

The need to work never stops. The further along you get, the more you have to push yourself. At least that’s how Harris looks at it. For him, just making the League was never the goal, and so when he felt himself getting winded on defense during his first full season in Orlando—in February 2013, Harris was traded to the Magic by the Bucks, who selected him after just one year at Tennessee with the 19th pick in the 2011 Draft—he made a point of improving his conditioning that summer. That’s when he started with the

sprints. That same season, Harris saw his three-point shooting percentage fall to 25 percent. So, in the offseason, he and Torrel took a look at some tape. Torrel noticed that Tobias, after catching the ball, was dropping it down a bit before rising up to shoot.

“He actually saw it first and I didn’t believe him,” Tobias says, laughing. “He told me shoot 20 my way and 20 his way and see who does better.”

Tobias then pauses, and smiles. “He was right.”

This season Harris shot 36 percent from deep and 44 percent from those all-important corners. His coach in Orlando, James Borrego, says Harris’ shot had more arc this year and it used to be a little flat. Harris could always create off the dribble and score in the post.

But now, “He can space the floor and play either forward position,” Borrego says. “On offense he either has a post-up advantage at the 3 or makes the other team adjust to us when he’s at the 4. And on defense he’s got the size, strength and quickness to match up with opponents at both forward positions.”

What Borrego says he’s most impressed by is Harris’ improvement on defense off the ball. To say Harris is competitive is an understatement. His teammate and cousin, Channing Frye, says he “needs to win in everything. He wants to be first on the bus, first in warm-up lines, first to be showered.” This was hurting Harris on the defensive end.

“Guarding guys was always something he committed to,” Borrego says, “but I think it took him a bit to learn that being attached to your own man all the

time, and trying to always keep him from scoring, can actually hurt the team.” Harris concurs. “I never wanted anyone to score on me,” he says. “But as you get more familiar with players and teams in the League, and watch more film, you start figuring out where you’re supposed to be.”

The same thing can be said off the court, where Harris has figured out what kind of person he wants to be, too. He rarely parties; most of his time is spent working out. Even his non-basketball hobbies seem related to his competitive nature. He sharpens his mind by playing chess. He reads motivational books, such as The 48 Laws of Power.

And yet, at his heart, Harris is just a kid from the land of EPMD. It’s not uncommon for one of his friends to receive a call because Harris needs to know how to beat a certain level of Dragon Ball Z. He spends time every month meeting students and donates gifts at Christmas. In the summer he runs a camp on Long Island and officiates the games.

Beforehand, though, he always makes sure to get a workout in. After all, it’s never too early to go for a run.

“I want to be a killer in this league,” Harris says. “To get where I’m trying to go, that’s the mindset you have to have.”

Tobias Harris Donation

Tobias Harris to Donate $50,000 to Orange County Public Schools

By Zach Oliver of Presto in the Paint

Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris will present Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) with a check for $50,000 at their 2014 Fore Our Schools Golf Tournament on Friday, September 12 at 1:30 PM at the Orange County National Golf Club. Per Harris’ request, the donation will be distributed between Howard Middle School, Nap Ford Community School and the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools to assist them with intellectual and social tools that will improve education for Central Florida youth.

“I truly believe education is the foundation of success,” said Tobias Harris. “As a professional athlete I have been extremely fortunate to have a platform with which to make a difference and what better place to start than through kids and their education.”

Harris’ donation to OCPS is made possible through the 2013-14 Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award.  Each year, the Orlando Magic honors a player who has dedicated his efforts off the court for the purpose of enhancing others’ lives at the annual Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Black Tie and Tennies Gala. In addition to receiving the award, the player is granted $50,000 from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation to donate to the charity of his choice.

Established in 1987, the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools is committed to public education. OCPS serves the 10th largest public school system in the nation, providing instruction for more than 187,000 students with almost 13,000 teachers in 184 schools with a mission to lead students to success with support and involvement of families and community. The Foundation’s 2012-15 Strategic Plan focuses on four goals: literacies, quality teaching, learning support and engagement.

Take the Pledge to Not Text and Drive with Tobias Harris

Think you can get away with texting and driving? Think again. Over 100,000 crashes per year are caused by a driver focused on their phone and not the road, crashing their car and possibly taking a life. It has got to stop. That’s why the Expressway Authority, Orlando Health Trauma Center, Z88.3, Boone High School’s “Always Wear Your Seat Belt Club,” and the Magic’s Tobias Harris have joined together to create a social stigma around this dangerous habit of texting and driving by offering drivers of all ages a solution – designate a texter.

As Tobias Harris recently stated: “Friends don’t let friends text and drive. They designate a texter.” Join the movement and take the pledge.  And, share why you designate a texter at #WhosYourDT.  It stops with you. Visit

#12 Tobias Harris Orlando Magic / NBA Christmas Jerseys Released

by Evan Dunlap from Orlando Pinstriped Post – The NBA has really pushed sleeved jerseys over the last season-plus, with the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns adding a sleeved alternate uniform to their respective wardrobes in that span. That push expands on Christmas 2013, when all 10 of the teams in action that day will wear sleeved jerseys. The event is called BIG Holiday, and follows up the BIG Color campaign from 2012, when teams wore monochromatic uniforms.

The Orlando Magic aren’t scheduled to play on Christmas, but adidas has put together a sleeved jersey for them anyway, and a version bearing Tobias Harris’ name and no. 12 is now available in the NBA’s official online store. The black jersey prominently features the Magic’s trailing-ball logo, rendered in silver and blue, across the chest. The jersey number, in white with silver trim, adorns the left sleeve and the back.

This particular sleeved style–not just the Magic’s, but the entire BIG Holiday set–is not my taste, as I find it lacking personality and style, the two individual traits which most define NBA athletes’ on-court moves. A different issue is that they resemble warm-up shirts instead of game gear, but the NBA, I gather, hopes to shift that paradigm as more teams add sleeved looks. >>> Purchase Your Tobias Swingman Christmas Day Jersey


John Denton’s Feature: Harris Has Big Goals in 2013-14

By John Denton of – Whereas there was surprise from some last season when Tobias Harris came to Orlando and blossomed into a standout scorer, the sweet-shooting Magic forward simply saw it as part of the master plan.

Harris grew up around professional sports with a father who was the agent to Hall of Famer George Gervin, and his singular focus from the time that he was old enough to dribble a ball was to play in the NBA.

As a youngster, he wrote class papers about playing in the NBA. Most kids his age learn the game from rec league coaches, but Harris was getting advice from longtime NBA player Mel Daniels and the legendary Gervin. And his when his cousin, Channing Frye, reached the NBA in 2005, it only strengthened Harris’ motivation to play basketball professionally.

Even today, it’s as if Harris is wearing blinders and basketball greatness is the only thing in his vision. His offseason included 6 a.m. shooting sessions with his younger brother, weight-room workouts that made him the second-strongest person on the Magic and thousands of shots in an attempt to become a more efficient player. His idea of a summer vacation: A trip to San Antonio for a mini-camp with Gervin, who analyzed his workouts and gave him pointers on an elite player’s mindset.

So while some might have been surprised that he went from riding the bench in Milwaukee last season to averaging 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.37 blocks for the Magic, Harris wasn’t the least bit shocked. It is a product, he said, of a life dedicated to basketball. And the success has come from a daily dedication of wanting to be great at the game.

“Each and every day I think about being great,’’ Harris said Wednesday before the Magic’s second practice of training camp. “When I wake up in the morning, I always ask myself, `How will I be great today? What will I do to be great?’ And when the day is over, `What did I do to be great?’ Each and every day I have a goal for myself because I want to expand my game. If you have the right mindset, you work hard and you keep doing the right things, only success can come from that.’’

Heading into his third NBA season and his second with the Magic, Harris is expanding his goals. He truly believes that he has the skill set and the supporting cast around him to make a run at getting picked to play in the NBA All-Star Game. If he can build off his 27 games with the Magic – when he scored 20 points nine times and 30 points twice – he thinks he can help the Magic make great strides and put himself in the running for an All-Star bid.

“Going into the season, being an all-star is definitely one of my top individual goals,’’ he stressed. “I think I have the ability, and with the team that is around me and the coaching staff embracing me as a player, I think I have that ability. It’s important to go into a season with those type of goals to push myself as a player and push our team to be the best that it can be.’’

It is important to point out that Harris is only 21 years old. That makes him younger than prized Magic rookie Victor Oladipo and he’s only 10 months older than Orlando’s Maurice Harkless, who was the second-youngest player in the NBA last season. But Harris, nicknamed “All Business’’ because of his focused and serious persona, isn’t your usual 20-year-old. That’s one of the first things that Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn learned about Harris last February following the trade that brought him to the Magic from Milwaukee.

“The way he carries himself, the drive and determination that he has at this age has gotten him to this point and it’s going to continue to carry him,’’ Vaughn said. “He’s the young man where you go to a basketball clinic and you pull him up and ask him what he wants to be and he says, `Professional basketball player.’ That’s where his focus was at an early age, and it’s gotten him to this point.’’

Harris not only grew up with posters of NBA players on his bedroom wall, but he also had a hand-written list of goals that he wanted to accomplish. He’s never been shy about setting lofty goals for himself, and he uses them to push him through drills as he works to improve. And he said even if sometimes he doesn’t reach his goals, he knows that it made him better by striving for greatness instead of simply settling for average.

“First off, my goal was to be in the NBA, and to be the first pick in the draft,’’ said Harris, who was the 19th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft and got a taste of professional basketball right off the bat when his draft rights were traded from Charlotte to Milwaukee. “Some goals you might not reach, but if you expand them and reach for them only good things will happen. My rookie year, I wanted to be the Rookie of the Year. It didn’t happen, but at the same time it gave me the pressure on myself to work as hard as I can.’’

The start to Harris’ career was anything but a dream come true as he was mostly buried on the bench and out of favor with former Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles. After playing just 42 games as a rookie and 28 last season with the Bucks, he viewed his trade to Orlando as a fresh start. And he was ready to take full advantage of his opportunity in Orlando because he had continued to work hard on his while playing very little in Orlando.

Revived by his chance to play for a supportive coach in Orlando and a cast of players close to him in age, Harris pumped in 23 and 27 points in his first two games in a Magic uniform. He showed off the ease with which he can pile up the points and score from almost anywhere on the court by making an eye-popping 20 of 27 shots in those first two games.

He followed those performances up with 17 points and 15 rebounds against the Lakers, 29-, 30- and 26-point efforts against Charlotte, Washington and Cleveland. But his finest moment came against the Bucks when he finally got a chance to show his former team what it was missing out on. Playing 45 minutes of the overtime victory, Harris unleashed a 30-point, 19-rebound, five-assist barrage. And that “All Business’’ nickname was shown at the end of the game when he grabbed a rebound, raced the length of the court and dunked for a final exclamation point. Harris apologized later and said he wasn’t trying to show up the Bucks, but it did give some insight into his focused and determined nature.

“He’s a great teammate and a great example,’’ Magic center Kyle O’Quinn said. “It’s his third year in the league and he’s younger than me, but he’s been around three years and you look up to him. … (His maturity) is why I look to him a little bit. You disregard the age factor and you respect him because he takes this game very seriously. He treats it like a real job.’’

In addition to toning his body to a ripped 240 pounds to better go against the likes of Indiana’s David West and Chicago’s Carlos Boozer, Harris worked this offseason on becoming a more efficient shooter. His shooting averages – 45.5 percent overall, 31.5 3-point percentage and 75.2 free throw percentages – were just that – average – and he wants to be better this season.

According to, Harris made 52.4 percent of his shots in the lane last season, but he shot just 30.3 percent and 38.6 percent from just outside the blocks on the left and right sides. Conversely, Harris’ midrange jumper was nearly automatic as he drilled 59.2 percent of his shots from the right wing and 55.5 percent from the left wing. But he knows there are still plenty areas to improve upon, namely the corner 3 where he made just 28.5 percent of his tries.

Once again showing his dedication to his craft, Harris picked the brain of Gervin this summer for tips. The two watched game film together and Gervin watched Harris’ on-court work to analyze his shooting stroke. It just further showed Harris’ willingness to go to extra lengths to improve.

“I have to shoot a higher percentage and then be able to get the ball at any time in the game and get a bucket for our team,’’ Harris said. “That’s the key to being efficient. It’s hard to do, but it’s a goal for me.

“Going to San Antonio and speaking to George Gervin, he preached to me that just because I have the green light doesn’t mean I have to shoot it all of the time,’’ he continued. “It means I have to take the shots that I can make and will make. That’s what I look to do. He shot over 50 percent in his career and that’s what I want to do. So I can watch film and learn and grow from there.’’

So if Harris becomes an elite scorer, if he becomes an all-star and the team leader that the young Magic need, it shouldn’t be a surprise. It is part of his plan. After all, he’s dedicated his life to this and now he wants to become a player that the Magic can count on nightly to do great things.

“I embrace (being a leader) a lot, especially with this team. Leading doesn’t always have to be vocal and it can be by example,’’ he said. “Whatever I do, whether it’s communicating with teammates, helping guys out or coming in first in sprints, all of that is ways I can be a leader for this team.’’


QUOTE: “I’m the same weight I played at last year but I am more toned and less body fat. It just makes you a more explosive player being able to guard threes and fours and still be as fast.”

JOSH COHEN’S ANALYSIS: It’s apparent Jacque Vaughn is planning to explore his guys at different positions and it’s a big reason for the change in body types across the roster. Harris’ improved strength will permit him to compete effectively against some of the more conventional power forwards in the league such as David West, Carlos Boozer and Kevin Garnett. But because his body fat is significantly lower, Harris, if necessary, can still fit into his more natural small forward spot.