The Los Angeles Clippers will have a Montrezl Harrell-conundrum in their hands this coming offseason. After a surprising second-round exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs, the Clips must now tinker with their roster in a bid to live up to their championship aspirations next year.
Harrell will no doubt be the Clips’ most enticing movable asset, considering he’ll be one of the hottest commodities in the free-agent market. Trez had a monster season in his contract year in the 2019-20 campaign. The once unheralded bruiser was initially deemed too small for his position, but eventually made a name for himself in three seasons with the Clippers.
He notched 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 63 regular-season games and was deservingly named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year winner.
Although Harrell was extremely rusty after missing almost half of the bubble games, he showed flashes of his dominant self prior to the Clips’ unceremonious elimination.
But as good as the 6-foot-7 slotman has been, it will be in the Clippers’ best interest to let him walk away. His value is at an all-time high right now, meaning his services will come with a hefty price tag. Re-signing him will put a massive strain on LA’s already expensive cap and will limit their chances of signing other impactful players.
Kendrick Perkins has hinted that the Clippers will blow this team up, but it’s highly unlikely that they will part ways with superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Moving on without Harrell makes the most sense for the Doc Rivers-coached team.
Plus, it seems that Harrell has already worn out his welcome in LA after reportedly figuring in a heated verbal altercation with George during that Nuggets series.
With that said, it still won’t be wise for the Clippers to just let Harrell walk away to sign with the biggest bidder. While Trez holds all the cards since he will be an unrestricted free agent, the Clips must find a way to explore a sign-and-trade deal with another team to maximize his value.
Here are three realistic deals that the Clippers should explore for Harrell.
Moving Trez to The Valley of the Sun
The Phoenix Suns have reportedly been Harrell’s destination of choice for a while now. The Louisville-alum wants a bigger role next year, and he’ll certainly get that opportunity in Arizona.
At just 26 years old, Harrell will fit right in with the team’s young core. The Suns do have nice pieces for a nice package for the energetic big man.
While Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton will likely be off-limits, the Clippers will be thrilled to have intriguing wingers like Mikal Bridgers or Kelly Oubre Jr.
They can also go for Ricky Rubio, who might just be the facilitator that the Clips are sorely missing at the moment.
The Clips, however, must also think long-term on this one. They burned through their draft picks for the next coming years, and they might as well get some from the Suns for Harrell.
Shipping Harrell to The North
The Toronto Raptors have another high-profile free agent to worry about in Fred VanVleet, but they might as well throw their hat on the ring for Harrell.
The Raps have expressed major interest with the Clippers reserve as soon as they were also booted out of the playoffs.
Raptors will make a run at signing Clippers big man Montrez Harrell this offseason, source tells me.
— Ross 🏀 (@LegionHoopsRoss) September 17, 2020
The 2019 champs definitely need an upgrade on their frontline, especially if they fail to retain Serge Ibaka in free agency.
Toronto could also do a sign-and-deal with Ibaka and flip him for Harrell, along with an assortment of young players or picks.
This gives the Clippers another battle-tested big who can come off the bench. Harrell may be the better player overall, but LA could certainly use Ibaka’s 3-point shooting and elite defense.
Sending Harrell to The Hive
Harrell will certainly command big bucks and the Charlotte Hornets does have the money and history of overpaying free agents.
Owner Michael Jordan would spare no expense to get his team back to the playoffs, and Harrell could be a vital piece moving forward. Plus, we all know MJ loves undersized rebounding machines from his Chicago Bulls days, so Harrell does fit the bill.
The challenge for the Clippers here will be to set a trade for Harrell when Charlotte can simply throw him the big bucks to get his signature.
The Clips might have to get creative on this one and give the Hornets players other solid players in a package deal. They can explore adding veterans like Lou Williams, Reggie Jackson, JaMychal Green, or Landry Shamet just to get a nice haul from the Hornets.
Charlotte has some nice young pieces like PJ Washington or Miles Bridges, or the Clips could just target the Hornets’ abundance of draft picks.