The Philadelphia 76ers signed Montrezl Harrell in a seismic-shifting move on Tuesday. The 6-foot-7, 240-pounder will slide into the backup center spot and bring a bully’s mindset to a Sixers team focused on strengthening their mental toughness. Joel Embiid challenged the front office and they responded.
Harrell immediately took to Twitter to confirm reports of a two-year, $5.2 million contract (via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski). The 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year also appeared to squash his beef with Embiid. Harrell posted a bitmoji of himself standing in a Zen pose — eyes closed, calm and serene, with his index finger and pinky touching — in what many interpreted as a sign of truce.
Remember, Harrell and Embiid endured a heated exchange in 2021 when the Sixers and Wizards met. The two big men came to blows on the court and Harrell was ejected after picking up a second technical foul. Embiid admitted to being a troll in his post-game press conference. Meanwhile, Harrell didn’t back down saying: “Stand on your toughness. If you’re so tough, stand on that, my dude.”
What was Embiid’s take at the time? He said: “I was smiling because he told me that I didn’t do anything all game which is surprising because, at that point, I think I had like 30 in 20 minutes. Like I said, I’m just glad we got the win.”
Needless to say, Embiid and Harrell have a history and not good history. It’ll be interesting to see how they get acclimated in the same locker room.
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Harrell’s Happy Reunion with Doc Rivers
Harrell has a much better history with Doc Rivers, the coach who saw his full potential and turned him into the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Harrell averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks in 27.8 minutes per game for the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2019-20 campaign. It remains his most dominating season to date.
Coach and player went through some emotionally trying times during the 2020 COVID-19 Orlando bubble year, too. Harrell left the team for a month to be with his sick grandmother before she died. Rivers granted the big man his space.
“You can’t play if you’re not right mentally and because of the emotional part of it,” Rivers said in August 2020, via the Los Angeles Times. “His grandmother is very tight with him so all I told him is I love him and take your time. We’ll be ready with open arms when you come.”
Embiid Gets Another ‘Tough Guy’ in Philly
Following a 99-90 loss to Miami in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Embiid talked about how the Sixers haven’t invested in “tough guys.” The All-Star center specifically mentioned P.J. Tucker as a player he wished the Sixers could go out and get.
“We’ve had a few tough guys since I’ve been here, I can recall Mike Scott. When you have size and toughness, that goes a long way,” Embiid said. “Since I’ve been here I’d be lying if I said we had those types of guys. Nothing against what we have, it’s just the truth. We never have P.J. Tucker, that’s really what I’m trying to say.”
Well, the front office listened and signed a bunch of tough guys including Tucker, Harrell, and Danuel House. Philadelphia won’t lack physicality or attitude this season.