PHILADELPHIA — Although he never has been an All-Star, Dix Hills native Tobias Harris signed a five-year, maximum-salary deal worth $180 million last summer with the 76ers. Some questioned the wisdom of that move, but Harris has averaged 19.3 points, second on the 76ers behind Joel Embiid, and has added 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Asked before Philadelphia faced the Nets Wednesday night if Harris’ growth is where he hoped it would be, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown spoke glowingly about his eight-year veteran forward. Harris finished with 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead the 117-106 win over the Nets.
“It is,” Brown said. “What I have said to him, is that ‘I want you to score. I want to grow you as a scorer, like a JJ Redick.’ JJ would come in and find the rim, find the rim, find the rim. And I think that [Harris] has done that. I think he has grown his game where it’s moving out, where I want it to be.
“Three-point potential, he can get into the lane, jump over stronger people. If you take a deeper dive, you’re going to see him in more pick-and-rolls and making passes out of the pick-and-rolls. He’s improving in subtle ways there.”
Equally important, Brown appreciates the mature locker-room presence Harris has provided. “I just love him as a team leader,” Brown said. “He really is invaluable from a human standpoint as much as he is on the court.”
Kyrie's workload monitored
Nets point guard Kyrie Irving played his third game in four nights despite coming off a two-month shoulder injury, but coach Kenny Atkinson said he still is monitoring Irving’s use though he played 32 minutes Tuesday against Utah.
“There was one time last night, he said, ‘Can I go in now?,’” Atkinson recalled. “I’m like, ‘No.’ That’s part of my responsibility as a coach is to make sure that we’re thinking down the line, too, not just in this moment. We’ve got to think big picture. So, we’re having those conversations.”