Harris ready to 'earn my value' after turning down $80M extension

Chris Schwegler / National Basketball Association / Getty

LAS VEGAS - The NBA offseason is a star's game, with big names either on the move or signing lucrative, long-term deals to stay put.

So when Tobias Harris, who's played for four teams in his seven NBA seasons without an All-Star appearance, turned down an $80-million extension offer from the Los Angeles Clippers, it raised some eyebrows.

"I think for the average fan, when you see such a big number, you (take a long) look at that number," Harris told theScore after a Team USA minicamp practice this week in Las Vegas.

"But there's a lot of things to consider. Myself and my representation went to the drawing board, looked at all types of variables, and came out with this being the decision to make. It's not something you just sit back and quickly say yes or no to. At the end of the day, it's $80 million."

NBA history is littered with mid-tier players who've come to regret turning down lucrative extensions, but Harris is betting on himself to continue the steady climb he's made up the NBA hierarchy before hitting free agency next July.

"Receiving that offer was a huge accomplishment, and I was extremely grateful," he said.

"But with that being said, I've always stuck to proving myself as a player and proving my value. Whatever that number is at the end of next season, that's where it's at, but I'm gonna go out on the court and earn my value."

The 26-year-old is eligible for a max contract next summer worth roughly $188 million over five years if he stays with the Clippers, and up to $145.5 million over four years should a rival suitor max him out.

Harris, who was shipped from the Pistons to the Clippers as part of the midseason blockbuster that sent Blake Griffin to Motown, averaged 18.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on 46-41-83 shooting between Detroit and Los Angeles last season. However, he knows his next step as an NBAer isn't solely tied to his on-court production.

"I think just being more of a vocal player on the court for our team - taking more of a leadership role - I think that will bring my game to another level," Harris said.

"Obviously there are little things on the court to improve on - continue to get better (at) shooting, be a better mid-range shooter, getting to the free-throw line more, and then on the defensive end, being a step earlier. But I think one of the biggest things is ... trying to be a leader and bring our team together."

With the trio of Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan all exiting L.A. over the last year, the Clippers are now devoid of both star power and mainstays. Harris, for his part, hopes to eventually check both boxes.

"Since day one, since I've been on the Clippers, it's been nothing but love," Harris says of his brief time with the team.

"I love the organization, love the city, and want to be here for a long time. Both sides have really good feels for each other. Hopefully this is a long-term relationship."

If Harris has the type of season he envisions for himself, the Clippers will need to pitch him on staying put as much as he'll be pitching himself as a max player. A trip to the playoffs, where Harris has played just four postseason games in seven years, would be a start.

"I put winning first," Harris said. "Every season I go in asking, 'how can we get into the playoffs?' I let everything else cover itself."

Harris ready to 'earn my value' after turning down $80M extension
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