One of the more interesting moves the Los Angeles Lakers made last offseason was the signing of Montrezl Harrell. It was an odd signing considering the team won with their superior size last season. Signing a 6-foot-7 center went against that idea. However, Harrell was the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and it’s never a bad idea to add more talent.
In hindsight, the move looks like a mistake. Harrell had some really good moments during the regular season but disappeared from the rotation in the playoffs. The big man is in a tough spot heading into the offseason. He’s got a player option on his contract and could choose to opt-out. Doing so would lead to him walking away from $9.7 million in hopes he’d get the same or better on the open market.
Though he had a down year with the Lakers, it’s not an easy decision as there’s no guarantee a team is going to pay him what his current team is. Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report predicts Harrell to opt-out and test free agency.
“Harrell should decline his option, hope there’s a team out there willing to pay at least the MLE for an undersized 5 who’s had major offensive success in the past and part ways with a Lakers team that never quite found a way to maximize his specific skills,” Hughes wrote.
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Would Lakers Want Harrell Back?
It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Harrell returns to the Lakers next season. If he decides to pick up his player option this offseason, he becomes a trade piece for the team. That’s exactly what happened to JaVale McGee last year.
Harrell is a good player who can be valuable on a number of teams. Based on last season, it doesn’t look like that team is the Lakers. It might be good for Los Angeles if he picks up the player option as there has to be a team out there that would want to trade for him. During the season, the Charlotte Hornets made a trade offer for Harrell, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Perhaps they still have an interest in the center. The Lakers won’t get a big return for him but could land some assets that could help them in a future trade.
Time for Lakers to Go Star Hunting?
Over the last two seasons, the Lakers have relied on LeBron James and Anthony Davis to lead the team. That worked last season as the team won a championship but that strategy worked against them this season. Los Angeles has become too reliant on its two stars.
Obviously, injuries can happen to any player but Davis now has a long history of getting injured and LeBron is going to be 37-years-old next season. The Lakers would be wise to find a durable third star who can help lead the team to wins if the other two aren’t 100%. It remains to be seen who that third star might be but the team should start looking ASAP.