Montrezl Harrell was primed to cash in this offseason after winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award with the Los Angeles Clippers.
He had become an integral part of the Clippers the past two seasons.
Which is why it came as a surprise to many when he decided to sign a 2-year, $19 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Montrezl Harrell: "This is a team that wanted me and was highly on me. I'm honored and thankful for that. Blessed to be here."
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) November 23, 2020
When Harrell was asked whether or not the Clippers wanted him back, he didn’t hold back in his response.
“I mean, that goes without saying. Apparently not if I’m on the other side. It’s a business decision. I felt that it was the right decision. I talked to my family and this is where we decided that we wanted to go. Simple as that. I’m definitely gonna be with a team that wanted me and with a group of guys that I feel I’m gonna gravitate to and build chemistry with fast.”
Harrell did say he had wanted to return to the Clippers.
With the Clippers, Harrell transformed himself into a super-sub off the bench.
Montrezl finished 3rd in the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2018-2019 and followed that up by winning this year.
He appeared in 63 games this year while posting career highs in points-per-game (18.6), rebounds-per-game (7.1), and minutes-per-game (27.8).
Why Did Harrell Choose the Lakers?
Even though Harrell said he wanted to return to the Clippers, he ended up in the purple-and-gold.
The connection between Montrezl and the Lakers is there.
Even though Harrell said Klutch Sports is “like a family”, he said James and Davis did not have any effect on his decision.
“As far as my decision, it didn’t have any effect, because at the end of the day, my decision doesn’t affect neither one of those guys’ lives as far as their living conditions. I have a family I have to provide for, so my decision was my decision.”
The decision was strictly business.
Montrezl Harrell on the reactions from his former Clipper teammates when he signed with the Lakers: "They understand the business — I learned the business from those guys."
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) November 23, 2020
He realizes outside of those top few guys in the league, “everybody [else] is expendable”.
With the Lakers, Harrell gets a chance to win a title with a team that just claimed the Larry O’Brien trophy.
He will reprise his role off the bench behind recent LA signing Marc Gasol.
And with Davis being able to play the center, he will not be tasked with guarding opposing centers.
Harrell was somewhat exposed in the bubble when he was forced to play big.
Another reason for Harrell choosing a 2-year deal could be COVID-19.
The pandemic has caused some uncertainty in the salary cap.
Harrell can opt-out after this season and re-enter free agency next offseason.
The next offseason should bring more clarity on the salary cap and most teams will be flush with cap space as they prepare for top names to be available.
What Are the Lakers Getting
Harrell going to the Lakers could be a case of the rich getting richer.
The Lakers also added Dennis Schröder – the runner-up to Harrell this year in Sixth Man of the Year.
Harrell, last year’s 6th Man of the Year, averaged 18.6 points (58.0% FG's), 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocks in 27.8 minutes. The only player to average more points off the pine was his new teammate, Dennis Schröder. https://t.co/B25yoApvba
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 23, 2020
A big problem the Lakers had last season was scoring the ball when LeBron and/or Davis went to the bench.
Harrell has a relentless motor on both ends of the court and will provide some scoring punch off the bench.
Between him and Kuzma (assuming he doesn’t get traded), the Lakers will have much more offensive potency when LeBron rests.
Montrezl is also a tenacious rebounder, which will be important in replacing McGee and Dwight Howard.
While he will be a drop off on the defensive end, his offensive talent will be an upgrade over Howard.