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Montrezl Harrell opts in to player option, will likely be traded

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Montrezl Harrell picked up his contract option for next season, but that doesn’t mean he’ll necessary stay with the Lakers.

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Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Six Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

After an up-and-down first year with the Los Angeles Lakers, veteran forward Montrezl Harrell has opted in for another go-round (maybe).

The former Sixth Man of the Year has reportedly picked up his $9.7 million player option for the 2021-22 season, and will not enter free agency on Aug. 3, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Harrell averaged 13.5 points per game this season (good for fourth on the Lakers) and 6.2 rebounds while shooting a team-high 62.2% from the field. He fell out of the rotation for the Lakers in the playoffs, however, which may have hurt what he and his representatives at Klutch Sports felt he could get on the open market in a summer where very few teams have cap space.

That’s probably why most of the reporting surrounding Harrell’s player option has been that he was leaning towards opting in, even though he clearly was not happy with how he was used last season.

Harrell opting in gives the Lakers seven players under contract for next season, with Harrell, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marc Gasol, Kyle Kuzma and the non-guaranteed contract of Alfonzo McKinnie all on the books for next year.

That does not mean he will remain with the team, however. The Lakers clearly want to make big moves this summer, and it would not be surprising to see Harrell’s nearly $9.7 million contract used to help make the salary-matching math work in one of them. Wojnarowski has already reported as much, as have others:

For now, it appears more likely he’ll be in the Lakers’ trade for Russell Westbrook, but either way it would be something of a surprise if that was the case when training camp kicks off in the fall. Or even by the end of next week, at this rate.

This story will update 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.