One of the early surprises of this past NBA free agency happened when Montrezl Harrell signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. He had become an important piece for the Clippers and nobody expected him to join their archrival. Harrell is a Klutch Sports client, which means he shares an agent with Lakers star Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
It was fair to speculate that played a role in Harrell’s decision but he revealed that it did not factor into why he signed with the team.
“As far as my decision, it (relationship with LeBron and Davis) didn’t have any effect, because at the end of the day my decision doesn’t affect neither one of those guys’ lives,” Harrell said Monday.
“I have a family I have to provide for, so my decision was my decision. I talked with my family and people in my tight circle, and this is what we felt was best for me.”
The Lakers are coming off a championship season and are the most decorated franchise in the NBA. The idea of Harrell not having to move his family and having a better chance to compete for a title makes sense.
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Frank Vogel Praises Harrell
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why Harrell joined the Lakers. In the NBA, the rich tend to get richer as players try to win championships. The Lakers didn’t need Harrell heading into the offseason but there’s nothing wrong with having too much talent. While his defensive deficiencies have already become apparent, he’s a stud on offense and gives the team a spark off the bench. Head coach Frank Vogel had some high praise for the big man.
“You have to honor everything he does on the offensive end, whether he’s ducking in or rolling to the basket,” Vogel said recently. “He’s really picked up his offensive rebounding from early in the season and obviously gives us great defensive determination and fight as well with his communication. I thought he did a great job, not only rebounding the ball defensively but boxing out.
“It’s a selfless thing, to give yourself up, to get your body into a bigger guy like Valancunias and let some of the guards, or you saw Bron with 13 defensive rebounds. It lets some of the guards come back and rebound while he’s doing the dirty work underneath and wiping the crashes off of the glass. It doesn’t show up in the box score, but he really did a great job of that.”
Harrell Among Lakers’ Leading Scorers
It’s not that Harrell is a bad defender, he’s just undersized for the position he plays. Bigger centers like Nikola Jokic don’t have a hard time scoring on him. The Lakers knew he was going to have some issues on defense when they signed. Fortunately, they have one of the best defenders in the game in Anthony Davis. He should be able to help hide some of those issues on defense.
With that said, Harrell has proven to still be a strong scorer. Right now, he’s the Lakers’ fourth-leading scorer with an average of 12.9 points a game. The team didn’t get a ton of scoring off their bench last season so having a guy like Harrell around should fix that problem.