Veteran big man Montrezl Harrell will begin the 2020-21 NBA season in a new home, as he is joining the Los Angeles Lakers on a two-year contract with a second-year player option. Though Harrell will be playing in the same home arena, many were surprised by the partnership between player and team, including now-former teammate Patrick Beverley. While there is obvious appeal for any player to want to join the reigning champion Lakers, Harrell was a productive player for the Clippers and, by all accounts, wanted to continue that relationship.
However, it appears as if Harrell believes that interest was not fully reciprocated, and he shared that insight with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin on Monday. When prompted on whether the Clippers wanted him back, Harrell said “I mean, that goes without saying. Apparently not if I’m on the other side. So it is what it is, really.” From there, he indicated that he still has respect for the Clippers organization, but went on to say that “obviously it doesn’t seem” as if his former organization wanted to bring him back.
Harrell later described his signing as a “business decision,” and, if things go well with the Lakers, he can return to free agency in 2021 by declining his player option. The 26-year-old Harrell, who won the NBA’s 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year award, produced at a high level last season, averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while maintaining high-level efficiency. With that said, Harrell missed a large chunk of time in the Bubble to deal with the death of his grandmother and, when he returned, he struggled to regain his form, suffering a production drop and falling out of favor in the Clippers’ rotation at times.
With the Lakers, Harrell is in a prime position to act as a lob threat, rebounder and finisher near the rim, and spending time in Los Angeles was (very) kind to the reputation of Dwight Howard after his strong performance on the way to the 2020 title. Harrell enters with loftier expectations, but he also seems to be on a mission, and it will be interesting to see how his level of play stabilizes in a new home that isn’t so far from his old home.