Montrezl Harrell’s first year in Los Angeles certainly didn’t live up to his or the team’s expectations. As was the case up and down the roster, injuries, a shortened preseason and a compacted regular season all led to an underwhelming year for the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year.
However, a return for Harrell hasn’t been ruled out. His player option for the second year of his contract means his future and whether he returns to the Lakers next season is entirely in his hands. And despite the frustrations of last season, Harrell has not yet made a decision on his future.
Per Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, Harrell is still on the fence about his player option, though even accepting it might not mean he’ll be a Laker next season.
Harrell could exercise his player option and be traded. The Lakers and Kings have discussed a deal centered on Kyle Kuzma and Buddy Hield, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported. Multiple league sources told HoopsHype that Harrell and the Lakers’ 22nd overall pick were also discussed in variations of the trade talks centered around Kuzma and Hield.
Harrell’s insertion into trade talks with the Kings is noteworthy as Richaun Holmes enters unrestricted free agency this summer.
The only other report on Harrell with regards to his option came from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, who indicated that Harrell was leaning toward opting in. That report also came with the speculation that an opt-in by Harrell could also be a precursor to a trade.
Harrell’s $9.7 million salary would be a big help in facilitating any number of hypothetical deals for the Lakers this season, including the one mentioned by Scotto. A possible Kyle Kuzma-Buddy Hield trade was first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic as the Lakers continually shop Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Financially, a trade of Kuzma and Harrell for Hield would work. Further connecting dots, the Kings also have pick No. 39 in Thursday’s draft and one report suggested the Lakers were looking to move out of the first round.
For Harrell, the Kings would offer an opportunity to play in an offense alongside De’Aaron Fox, a guard who ran the fifth-most pick and rolls last season. At his best with the Clippers, Harrell excelled in the pick and roll alongside Lou Williams. This could further incentivize Harrell to opt-in and be part of a trade.
With the draft quickly approaching on Thursday, the deadline for the dominos to fall into place for the Lakers will approach rapidly, and it could all kick off with Harrell opting in.