To know that the Lakers aren’t exactly 100% satisfied with their center rotation of Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell doesn’t require your own anonymous sources. It only requires common sense, and an ability to read who else the team has been connected to.
The only 10-day contracts the Lakers have given out this season went to Damian Jones, an athletic, traditionally sized lob catcher who allowed the team to get some semblance of a preview of what this roster could look like with that archetype of player on it before letting Jones go. And save for an anonymous guard, that’s what the list of their rumored trade deadline targets has looked like: Andre Drummond, Myles Turner, Hassan Whiteside, JaVale McGee; they all fit an archetype of a big with more size that can protect the rim and serve as a pick-and-roll finisher.
Reading between the lines, then, it’s easy to see that the Lakers would like another type of center than the ones they have. The natural extension of that line of thinking is that either Harrell or Gasol could be on the move to make room for that player in the rotation. We’ve already had a report that the team was less than satisfied with what they were getting from Gasol before he missed more than two weeks in health and safety protocols, but Gasol’s veteran’s minimum deal wouldn’t net much in a trade, even if he was playing really well.
Harrell, on the other hand, would be easier to flip for someone of value while making $9.3 million this year, and according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Lakers are willing to consider a deal involving him.
Charlotte has also called the Lakers about Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles’ bruising center, sources said, and the reigning champions appear willing to entertain offers.
Now, that’s not a lot to go off, and certainly doesn’t imply that a Harrell trade is imminent, or anywhere close to guaranteed. That said, this is still notable, because while it’s been easy to see based on public reporting that Harrell might be available for a while, this is the first explicit confirmation we’ve gotten that the Lakers would be willing to listen to offers on him.
That noted, this specific deal may be dead in the water, which is why I didn’t headline around it: The bigger story here is the confirmation that Harrell could be available in a trade. But let our own Jacob Rude — who also covers the Hornets for Lonzo Wire and USA Today — explain why these two teams are unlikely to be the ones to partner up on such a move:
LaMelo Ball’s wrist fracture changes the mindset for the Hornets at the deadline. Down one of their top players this season, the team will likely not make any big moves and will instead look to salvage a playoff berth this season.
From the Lakers’ side of things, there is also larger situational context that may now take Harrell off the table, or at least make the team less willing to part with him. The elephant in the room has always been that as a Klutch Sports client, it’s not like the Lakers were going to just exile Harrell to some place he didn’t want to go. That larger relationship is too important to this team, and the only types of deals I could see the Lakers making with him are ones that send him somewhere where he’d have an equal or better opportunity to show his value to other suitors heading into this summer, when Harrell has a player option worth $9.7 million and the Lakers don’t have his Bird rights — and thus can’t go over the cap to re-sign him — so he is likely a one year rental if he opts out.
But with Anthony Davis still out and LeBron James now joining him on the sidelines for at least a few weeks, the Lakers actually need Harrell more than they even did before. They certainly were never going to dump a player as productive and talented as Harrell, but now he might be the first or second-most important member of their team as Los Angeles tries to stay afloat until Davis and/or James come back, and so it feels like a deal involving him at the deadline is more unlikely than it even was before.
Still, the newsworthy part here is that the Lakers have reportedly listened to offers on Harrell. With just days to go until the March 25 NBA trade deadline, that’s worth noting and being aware of as this team looks to fortify itself for a title run that health has made a whole lot harder and more complicated. An NBA GM job is never easy, but Rob Pelinka certainly has his work cut out for him over the days to come.