After a Sixth Man of the Year winning season with the LA Clippers, Montrezl Harrell is heading to the team across the hall at Staples Center. According to his agent, Rich Paul, Harrell is joining the Lakers in free agency:
Free agent Montrezl Harrell has agreed to a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, agent Rich Paul of @KlutchSports tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 21, 2020
Two years, $19M-plus for Harrell, Paul says. Lakers use mid-level exception on former Clippers center. https://t.co/LGgEkDaHN6— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 21, 2020
Sources: The Lakers and free agent center Montrezl Harrell are in negotiations for the NBA sixth man of the year to join them. Harrell turned down more money from Charlotte to join the Lakers.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) November 21, 2020
It’s family ties #B4L to the grave https://t.co/IEwIPiYzWZ— Montrezl Harrell (@MONSTATREZZ) November 21, 2020
Well, this is certainly one (completely unexpected) way for the Lakers to fill their void at center after losing Dwight Howard to the Sixers. And in case you were wondering, no, his former teammate Patrick Beverley isn’t thrilled about it:
♂️what https://t.co/44m24c60Ux— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) November 21, 2020
And as if the signing wasn’t worth it just for that reaction alone, for those of you keeping score at home, a Lakers bench that lacked scoring punch last season has now added the Sixth Man of the Year (Harrell) and the runner-up for the award (Dennis Schröder) as they look to defend their title. Both players are more than capable of helping a team’s offensive attack by getting buckets in a hurry. That the Lakers were able to get Harrell for the mid-level is pretty incredible considering that his value was projected to be a good deal upwards of that entering free agency.
Is Harrell a perfect player? No, and he won’t be able to replicate what Howard did defensively, or bring the same level of physicality and size. With that acknowledged, he is a far more valuable offensive player than Howard was at this stage of his career, and one of the best rollers in the league out of pick-and-roll sets, an action he ran with Lou Williams to perfection. You know who else is pretty good at pick and rolls? Schröder.
Based on their moves so far, it would seem that the Lakers are mostly focused on improving their offense this offseason, and given how much they may need other options to take the load off of LeBron James and Anthony Davis during a shortened regular season, that would seem to be a prudent approach as long as they can avoid having too much drop-off defensively when it matters. That is a tough needle to thread, but to get Harrell for this cheap makes this something of a no-brainer for Rob Pelinka and Co., and a great pivot in the wake of Howard’s departure.
We’ll see if it works out, but this is probably at least a worthwhile gamble for a younger talent upgrade. And with Davis playing the center minutes at a Defensive Player of the Year level when it matters anyway, that talent improvement may be all that matters.
This developing story may be updated with more information. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.