Former Sixth Man of the Year Unhappy With Role on Sixers?

Montrezl Harrell, Sixers

Getty Montrezl Harrell of the Philadelphia 76ers records Danuel House Jr. on camera during media day in September.

There is still a great deal up in the air regarding the Philadelphia 76ers rotation. With Doc Rivers essentially using an eight-game rotation, players such as Montrezl Harrell have been on the outside looking in.

Harrell, who has played only 10.3 minutes a game, did not shut down the suggestion that he is dissatisfied in his role.

“Of course, I wanna be out there on the floor,” Harrell said after the Sixers’ November 13 win over the Utah Jazz, according to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Grasso. “Of course, I wanna be in a position [of] something that’s consistent, but, hey, it’s the game. I’ve been in the game for eight years. It’s just about coming in the game and doing what you’re supposed to when your name is called so really that’s all I do, man.”

Harrell, 28, expressed a team-first mentality, saying, “It ain’t up to me. I just do my job when my name is called. It’s as simple as that. When my name is called, I just go out there and try to do it to the best of my ability, play the right way and just give us a lift off the bench.”

Harrell’s Dwindling Minutes

Through the first 16 games of the season, Harrell has played a total of 143 minutes. His 10.3 minutes per game is the fewest he has seen since his rookie year, 2015-16, with the Houston Rockets.

In 2017-2018, he played 17.0 minutes per games, but from 2018-2019 through last season, he averaged over 20 minutes a game.

He did see extended minutes against the Knicks on November 4, when he spent 29 minutes and five seconds on the court. The former Sixth Man of the Year tallied 14 points, seven rebounds, an assist and a steal making it his most impactful performance of the season. However, these opportunities have been few and far between through the early stages of the season.

Eastern Conference Executive Weighs In

An Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that it was possible that the Sixers would eventually give Harrell more playing time.

“Well, they’re giving [Paul] Reed a shot and that has not been going that much better for them so there is a chance they will go back to Harrell in time,” the executive said. “In a lot of years, in a lot of situations, they would have to worry about Harrell. He is a guy who always thinks he should be getting more minutes, more shots.

“But he had a tough summer with the legal stuff and he seems to be approaching it like he’s happy to be in the league,” the executive said in reference to Harrell’s arrest on marijuana charges in June. In August, those charges were reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, opening the door for a team to take a chance on him. “How long is that going to last? We’ll see. But it would not benefit him at all to complain, he has been around long enough to know that.”

It has been an up-and-down season for Reed as well. Neither Reed nor Harrell has proved to be the ideal backup big man thus far, but each has a strong chance to change the narrative with Joel Embiid recently dealing with a foot injury. While Harrell has still endeared himself to Philly fans with his intensity on the court and November 19 postgame altercation with Giannis Antetokounmpo, the level of play has not been up to par.

Harrell has an especially strong opportunity to prove his worth moving forward as the Sixers will be in need of a scoring pop that he can provide. While he has not played his best thus far, the Lousiville product averaged 18.6 points per game just three seasons ago with Rivers as his coach. If there ever was a time for him to step it up it would be now with Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and James Harden all set to miss time.

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