How Tobias Harris’ Trade to the 76ers Changes the Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

We’re witnessing a new “Process” in Philadelphia. This one involves competing for a championship right now.

The 76ers made it clear that they expect to fight for a title this season when they acquired Tobias Harris from the Clippers on Wednesday, adding a fourth All-Star caliber player to their roster. Philadelphia already traded for Jimmy Butler earlier in the year and now has Harris to also play beside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

The Clippers also sent Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to the 76ers in the trade. In return, Philadelphia traded Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, a 2020 first-round pick, Miami’s unprotected first-round pick in 2021 and two second-round picks to Los Angeles.

It’s a huge haul for Harris, who will be joining his fifth team in eight seasons despite producing at every stop. He’s averaging 20.9 points per game on 49.6 percent shooting from the floor and 43.4 percent from behind the arc. All those numbers are career-high marks for Harris, who brings versatility and shooting to Philadelphia. The 76ers are fourth in points per game and 10th in offensive rating and now add a player who’s having a career season.

Because Embiid, Simmons and Butler draw most of the attention from opposing defenses, Harris will continue to get his offensive opportunities in Philadelphia. Last season, the 76ers struggled to space the floor in the playoffs against the Celtics due to Simmons’ refusal to shoot 3s and Embiid’s focus in the paint. J.J. Redick is Philadelphia’s most lethal shooter, but Boston was able to key in on him due to the lack of other floor spacers. That changes with Butler and Harris on the roster.

The 76ers can now deploy three shooters alongside Simmons and Embiid, covering up their point guard’s weakness and allowing their center to find open teammates on the perimeter when facing double teams.

For the Clippers, this move provides them with plenty of options heading into the offseason. Los Angeles will likely fall out of the playoff picture, meaning they’ll keep their lottery-protected 2019 first-round pick. The Clippers can use that pick and the two they acquired in the trade to make a push for Anthony Davis if he remains with the Pelicans past the trade deadline (Los Angeles also has a bevy of young players to add in any Davis trade). Shamet was having a strong season in Philadelphia, averaging 8.3 points per game and shooting 40.4 percent from behind the arc. He’ll be a good developmental player alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson.

As for Harris’ future with Philly, he’ll be looking for a big long-term contract as an unrestricted free agent. He was going to be a fallback option at best for the Clippers if things didn’t work out with other players during the offseason, so Los Angeles now gains significant assets as they continue to rebuild while the 76ers get a dangerous fourth option.

Philadelphia is currently six games back of the first-place Bucks in the Eastern Conference and fighting for home-court advantage in the first round with the Raptors, Pacers and Celtics. It’s likely that Tuesday’s 119-107 loss to Toronto pushed the 76ers to give up their best assets in an attempt to win a championship this season.

By acquiring Harris, Philadelphia will now be one of the most dangerous teams during the second half of the season.