Rovell: Tobias Harris on What It’s Like to Make a $100M Bet on Yourself
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tobias Harris
- Tobias Harris signed a max contract with the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason, guaranteeing him $180 million over the next five seasons.
- But Harris was only in a position to sign such a lucrative deal because he made a very calculated (and risky) bet on himself.
Last summer, Tobias Harris had a choice to make. He had made $55.8 million in his seven-year NBA career and was due another $14.8 million in the final year of his deal when the Clippers offered him a deal that would double his career earnings with an extension offer worth $80 million.
But Harris bet on himself and rolled the dice, turning down the deal as he eyed unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2019 and a max contract, which would amount to $180 million over five years with his current team or $145 million over four years with a new team.
“Me and my father had talked about it and he said, ‘Listen, I know next summer that I can get you close to a max deal. I’ve seen the way that you worked this summer,’ and for me, my confidence was sky high,” Harris told The Action Network when he joined ‘The Favorites’ Podcast.
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It helps that Harris’ father Torrell is not only his dad, he is also his agent. And it’s not like he just entered the business. He’s been doing this for three decades.
Torrell said that Clippers president Lawrence Frank wasn’t surprised when he turned down the $80 million offer for his son. The same couldn’t be said for the public.
“When it first came out, everyone on the Internet was like, ‘Man, are you bugging? What are you doing?’” Tobias recalled.
But the Harrises had already played this game before. Waiting led to him getting $10.25 million deal annually for four years from the Orlando Magic, up from their initial offer of $8 million a year.
And the free agency list — while filled with big names like KD, Kyrie and Kawhi — didn’t look that intimidating to him.
“I went home and looked at the list of guys that were gonna be free agents the next summer, and I said I was gonna be one of the best in the list,” Tobias said.
But it wasn’t just thinking. Harris knew that in order to come through, he had to stay healthy and play great basketball.
In February, he got traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. He started all 39 games in Philly and continued to produce as a scorer (18.2 points per game).
“You get to the point where his efficiency is off the charts,” Torrell said. “When you look at statistics you see facts. So it gets to the point where it’s not about father and son and I look at him as a client.”
Tobias says he usually dictates.
“I call in and say that I need to speak to Torrell and other times I start with ‘What’s up dad?’”
No matter what roles they were playing, they both understood how big it was when Harris was offered a five-year deal by the 76ers worth $180 million.
The bet had paid off to the tune of $100 million.
When asked what percentage his father gets in commission, Tobias said 1%.
“He knows what he deserves,” Tobias said. “He’ll slide in after I get my first paystub.”