There was plenty of talk about where free-agent center Montrezl Harrell might wind up once he hit the market. He won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, averaging career highs in points (18.6) and rebounds (7.1), leading to speculation that had him landing everywhere from Charlotte to Phoenix to Miami.
There was also plenty of talk that suggested he would be going back to the Clippers. One place that was hardly ever mentioned: the Lakers.
But Harrell, meeting with the media for the first time this week, explained that the difference between the Clippers and the Lakers was simple—the purple-and-gold made him feel wanted.
"Coming to play for the purple & gold was the best choice… I'm happy to be a Laker."
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) November 24, 2020
“This is a team that wanted me and the team that was really high on me,” Harrell said. “I’m honored and thankful for that and blessed to be here.”
And about the blue-and-reds in the other NBA locker room at Staples Center? Harrell was not feeling wanted.
“I mean, that goes without saying,” Harrell said. “Apparently not if I’m on the other side, you know? So it is what it is, really.”
Montrezl Harrell’s Departure for Lakers Surprised Clippers Teammates
Harrell said that, though he had a strong bond with several players in the Clippers’ locker room—most notably Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams—he felt the Lakers’ willingness to pursue him from the get-go gave them an advantage in his recruitment. Harrell played with Beverley for his entire career, as the two were teammates in Houston and were traded together (Williams was also in the trade) to the Clippers for Chris Paul.
Pat Bev reacts to Montrezl Harrell agreeing to sign with the Lakers: pic.twitter.com/B8SvuSwNod
— ESPN (@espn) November 21, 2020
But Beverley was perplexed when news hit that Harrell was being traded, and expressed that on social media. Harrell pointed out that his decision was not personal:
It’s a business decision. You know, I felt it was the right decision for me, I talked to my family, and that’s where we decided we wanted to go, simple as that. There was no more thought process to it. I’m definitely going to be with a team that wanted me and with a group of guys that I am going gravitate well to, I am going to build chemistry with fast and going to get back into the same thing, the same feeling that they had which is just passion, which is about a championship.
Montrezl Harrell Known for his Hustling Style
Harrell said he should be able to slot in nicely with the Lakers. While he is an undersized big man at 6-7, he pointed out that he has been among the league leaders in charges taken consistently—he was second last year, with 30 charges drawn, and eighth the previous season, with 19 according to NBA Stats—and has held his own as a rim-protector (1.1 blocks per game last season).
There is some question whether he can, offensively, do enough floor-spreading to help Anthony Davis and LeBron James in the paint. Harrell has taken more than 90% of his shots from within 10 feet, according to Basketball-Reference.com, and has only shot 50 3-pointers in his career.
He’s not worried about that, though.
“I just want to complement the Lakers,” Harrell said. “That’s not really a hard thing to do, man. You’re playing with two premier superstars in our league in LeBron and AD, and these guys, their record speaks for itself, the names for speak for themselves. When you have guys on the floor of that high caliber, I don’t feel like it’s going to take that much getting used to. I just want to do anything it takes to win the game. That’s all that really matters.”