Montrezl Harrell‘s late grandmother was on his mind when he accepted the Sixth Man of the Year award, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Harrell left the Disney World campus for nearly a month when she died earlier this summer, returning just in time for the start of the playoffs.
“This is for my grandmother, who is not here with me today and isn’t going to be able to see this,” he said. “She isn’t going to be able to see me do something that she instilled in me as a young child, a game that she brought to my attention as a young man and I fell in love with and worked my tail off at.”
Harrell is the first big man in nearly a decade to capture Sixth Man honors. Heading into unrestricted free agency, he posted career highs this season with 18.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG. He recalls a conversation with coach Doc Rivers shortly after the Rockets traded him to L.A. in 2017.
“From day one, coach told me that this is not one of those things that we kind of just did to package this,” Harrell said. “‘No, we want you here. We’ve seen you play. We know the type of intensity and motor that you bring to the game. This isn’t one of those things that you’re going to be coming here and leaving back out. We want you here.’ To hear the head coach of an organization say you don’t have anything to worry about, you can get comfortable here, and this is a team that wants you, it means a lot.”
There’s more Clippers news to pass along:
- The award was presented to Harrell by teammate Lou Williams, who won it the past two seasons, Buha adds in the same story. A three-time winner overall, Williams finished third in this year’s voting. “For him to come out and just hand me the trophy, it was special,” Harrell said. “It was a huge surprise. … To see that trophy come out from the back and actually coming towards me, it was a tremendous honor and just a complete, complete tremendous thank you to my teammates, to Doc and Lou, everybody.”
- The Clippers need a strong performance from center Ivica Zubac, who is the only player on the roster who can match up physically with Denver’s Nikola Jokic, observes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Zubac had 15 points and nine rebounds in Saturday’s loss, but he remained on the bench late in the game as L.A. opted to use a smaller lineup.
- Game 2 exposed bad habits that have plagued the Clippers all season, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. L.A. showed little energy to start the game and trailed by 19 points after the first quarter.