Los Angeles Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell becomes an unrestricted free agent this NBA offseason and he’s expected to garner interest on the open market despite how his season ended.
After winning the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year Award, Harrell was so-so in the 2020 playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets. He averaged 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 57.3 percent from the field, but was exposed on defense, particularly against the Nuggets.
In the Nuggets series, Harrell had a negative plus-minus rating in six out of the seven games and struggled to guard Denver’s pick-and-roll action involving Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. The Clippers blew their 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets, with Harrell and small forward Paul George reportedly getting into a shouting match on the bench as well.
During the regular season, multiple reports stated that the Clippers have every intention to re-sign Harrell. However, it’s unknown if things have changed after the 2020 playoffs since Harrell played poorly, got into it with George, and supposedly was one of the players on the team who had a problem with Kawhi Leonard’s load management.
With that being said, here are three ideal landing spots for Montrezl Harrell in free agency if he and the Clippers decide to part ways.
1. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors could possibly lose Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka this offseason, as both players are set to hit the open market. If that happens, the 2019 champions should look to sign Harrell.
During the 2019-20 regular season for the Clippers, Harrell averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 63 games while shooting 58.0 percent from the field. That is production the Raptors would love to get from their frontcourt partner alongside All-Star Pascal Siakam.
Harrell probably views himself as a starter in the NBA and he would get that opportunity on the Raptors should Toronto not re-sign Gasol and/or Ibaka.
With that being said, Harrell and his representation should reach out to the Raptors and see if there is an interest in getting a deal done.
2. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors should try and steal Harrell away from the Clippers and insert him into their starting lineup alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green.
Golden State had the worst record in the NBA in 2019-20 and struggled to rebound the ball as well. A frontcourt led by Green and Harrell would be physical and intimidating despite neither guy being that tall. Green is a former Defensive Player of the Year and Harrell—though he was terrible in the Nuggets series—has shown flashes of being a capable defender when put in the right positions.
Harrell is a good pick-and-roll player and Curry is undoubtedly one of the best passers in the NBA. The Louisville product would get a bevy of open looks at the rim playing next to Curry and Thompson since the Splash Brothers attract so much attention on the perimeter and are willing passers when they get trapped.
3. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are rumored to be interested in signing Harrell in free agency. The 26-year-old would thrive playing next to Trae Young, who is already a dynamic passer despite being such a young player in the NBA.
Harrell could potentially replace Dewayne Dedmon in the starting lineup and play alongside Young, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter. That’s a solid up-and-coming starting lineup for the Hawks, who are looking to make the playoffs next season after winning only 20 games in 2019-20 before the campaign was suspended in March due to COVID-19.
A frontcourt of Harrell and Collins would be tough for opposing teams to stop with Young at the controls and controlling the game in the pick-and-roll sets. Moving forward, Atlanta has the necessary cap space it needs to surround Young with more talent and adding Harrell would be a good start for the Hawks.
Since entering the NBA in 2015 with the Houston Rockets, Harrell has compiled averages of 12.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists with the Rockets and Clippers. From the outside looking in, it just appears that Harrell needs a fresh start since there are a lot of leaks coming out of the Clippers locker room after the team choked against the Nuggets. New Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue most likely wants to play at a faster pace than Doc Rivers and that doesn’t really suit Harrell’s game.
Once the free agency period starts, it’s going to be interesting to see what teams Montrezl Harrell meets with. The Clippers are expected to make some roster changes this offseason, so Harrell has to make sure he has other offers available just in case the Clippers don’t want to bring him back.