Montrezl Harrell

Atlantic Notes: VanVleet, R. Williams, Harrell, Reed, Thybulle

Fred VanVleet‘s extension talks with the Raptors are on hold, but he indicated Sunday that he hopes to reach a long-term deal to stay in Toronto, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. VanVleet confirmed to reporters that he and the team had discussions about a four-year, $114MM extension before the start of the season, but they made a mutual decision to wait. A new deal can be reached any time up to June 30 if he turns down his player option for 2023/24.

“Without going too far into it … [I’m] just trying to put myself in a good position business-wise, and not take an extension on a deal that was made three or four years ago,” VanVleet said.“I felt like I’ve outplayed that contract thus far. So just trying to get myself in a position to put the cards in their hands. They got to make a decision from an organization standpoint. I love being here. I love being a Raptor. I got a great relationship with (team president) Masai (Ujiri) and (general manager) Bobby (Webster), so I’m confident that we could find (a deal). It’s a great partnership that we have, so going forward, I’m not going to make it easy on them and they’re not going to make it on me either, and that’s the way it’s going.”

VanVleet’s comments are contained in a story on why Toronto might be active ahead of the trade deadline following a disappointing 17-23 start. An Eastern Conference executive told Bontemps that the Raptors will have “plenty of interest” in their top players if they decide to make them available.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Robert Williams has only averaged 19.4 minutes in nine games since returning from knee surgery, but he’s making enough of an impact that coach Joe Mazzulla will have to consider making him a starter again, contends Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Williams is averaging 7.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in that limited time, and Boston has been more effective when he’s been on the court. “Whether he starts or comes off the bench, just want him on the floor, want him healthy,” Jayson Tatum said. “Want to be on the floor with him at the same time as much as possible. I’m going to start, so I’d like Rob to start. But whatever is best for the team, he’ll do that.”
  • With Joel Embiid still sidelined, Sixers backup centers Montrezl Harrell and Paul Reed combined for 36 points Sunday as both made a strong case for more playing time, notes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Neubeck believes Harrell is in a better position to get consistent minutes once Embiid returns, but says questions persist about his ability to protect the rim.
  • Matisse Thybulle went through two stretches where he wasn’t part of the Sixers‘ rotation this season, but he’s been showing his defensive value lately, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Thybulle had five steals Sunday against the Pistons, and Tyrese Maxey said, “At this point, I think they were just passing it to him.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Harrell, Drummond, Rivers

Friday marked Joel Embiid‘s second straight missed game due to left foot soreness, but head coach Doc Rivers said the team is confident it won’t be a long-term injury, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Rivers added that Embiid is “doing better,” but he isn’t sure how long the Sixers‘ star center will be sidelined.

Embiid landed on Jaxson Hayes‘ foot during the fourth quarter of Monday’s game vs. New Orleans. The 28-year-old is having another incredible season, averaging 33.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.2 SPG and 1.7 BPG on .532/.341/.853 shooting through 28 games (35.5 MPG).

Even after dropping Friday’s game, Philadelphia has a winning record (6-4) so far without Embiid this season, which is impressive considering how important he is to the team.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Backup big man Montrezl Harrell had a tumultuous offseason after being arrested on a felony marijuana trafficking charge, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge. He wound up signing a two-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Sixers, and had a slow start to the 2022/23 season, splitting minutes with Paul Reed at backup center. However, he’s had a bigger role with Embiid sidelined, and it’s an opportunity he doesn’t take for granted, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I had a lot of stuff transpire … especially in the beginning of the season,” Harrell said Wednesday night. “So just to be able to be out here and play this game and still be able to call it my job is a blessing.” Harrell is averaging 18.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 2.0 BPG in 25.4 MPG over the past two contests.
  • Former Sixers center Andre Drummond said he was “definitely blindsided” by last season’s trade to the Nets, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required). Drummond, Seth Curry and Ben Simmons were shipped to Brooklyn for James Harden. Drummond wound up signing a two-year deal with the Bulls in the offseason, but he still has found memories of his time with the Sixers, per Mizell. “They welcomed me. They made me feel very comfortable when I got here,” Drummond said Friday night. “We just had a lot of fun as a team. We really cared about each other. We had one common goal, which was to win as many games as possible and to be great. … “[It’s] sad that we had to break things up in February. Definitely miss playing here. … The city of Philadelphia, man, the fan base was one of a kind. I loved it here.”
  • In his latest mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pompey writes that Rivers’ job should be safe until at least the offseason due to injuries to Embiid, Harden and Tyrese Maxey. The Sixers have gone 23-12 after a 0-3 start, and the starting lineup has only played six of 38 games together thus far. However, Pompey believes Rivers might get fired if the Sixers have another disappointing playoff exit. Pompey also thinks Philadelphia will keep its 15th roster spot open until at least the February 9 trade deadline, if not longer.

Sixers Notes: Tucker, Harden, Milton, Reed

P.J. Tucker only has three combined points in his last seven games, but he’s not concerned about a lack of offense, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers won five of those games, even with their three best players missing time, and Tucker seems comfortable with his current role.

“As long as we’re winning, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Of course you want to get more shots. What player doesn’t? But with the way we play — Coach (Doc Rivers) talks about a lack of ball movement all the time — it’s one of those things. Sometimes you get shots, sometimes you don’t. You keep playing and figure it out.”

Philadelphia obviously didn’t sign Tucker over the summer because of his scoring. It was his defensive presence and other intangibles that convinced the team to give him a three-year, $33.2MM contract. Still, Pompey states that his lack of involvement in the offense can be concerning. Tucker spends many possessions spotting up in the corner, and he’s often out of rhythm when he does get a chance to shoot.

“Sometimes you get shots,” Tucker said. “Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the ball moves, sometimes it doesn’t. Without having (Joel Embiid), (the) ball’s got to pop. Ball’s got to move. Make easy shots for each other. It is what it is.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • James Harden, who has been out of action since November 2 with a strained tendon in his right foot, may be ready to return in a few days, Pompey adds. “It’s different with James because James kind of controls the game,” Tucker said. “He gets everybody the ball. Without James, it’s tough — that’s why the ball has to move even more.”
  • Shake Milton has made a strong case for rotation minutes once Harden and Tyrese Maxey are back on the court, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. Milton has averaged 22.8 points and 6.8 rebounds over the past four games, along with 7.8 assists and only 2.5 turnovers. He’s also shooting .589/.500/.938 during that span. Hofmann notes that Milton was playing well before the stars were injured and shouldn’t be considered the team’s 11th man anymore.
  • Paul Reed is learning to be more patient on offense and may be the choice for backup center minutes ahead of Montrezl Harrell once Embiid returns, Hofmann adds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Montrezl Harrell Involved In Postgame Altercation

Having made just 4-of-15 free throw attempts in an eight-point loss in Philadelphia on Friday night, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo came back out onto the Wells Fargo Center court after the game, hoping to make 10 shots in a row from the foul line before calling it a night.

However, as detailed in reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN, Joe Vardon of The Athletic, and Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, after Antetokounmpo had made seven consecutive free throws, Sixers big man Montrezl Harrell came and took the ball away on Giannis’ eighth attempt. Harrell and Sixers player development coach Jason Love refused to give the ball back to Antetokounmpo, who wanted to finish his shooting routine and reportedly told Harrell that there was room for both players to shoot.

“This isn’t f—ing Milwaukee,” Harrell shouted at Antetokounmpo, according to The Athletic. “Get that s–t out of there.”

Unable to get the ball back from Harrell and Love, Antetokounmpo left the court and returned with two new balls to continue shooting free throws. By that point, however, Sixers arena workers had positioned a large ladder in front of the basket Giannis had been using. When the staffers refused to move the ladder out of the way, Antetokounmpo tried to shove it aside and ended up knocking it over, as captured in a Twitter video.

Antetokounmpo ultimately did finish his foul shooting while Harrell worked out at the other end of the court and continued to shout at him. Once Giannis left the court for good, his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo came out and spoke to Harrell, according to Vardon, who says Harrell told Thanasis, “I’ll beat your a–“ and “You better send that s–t back to the locker room.”

Harrell, believed to be upset that Giannis was preventing him from doing his own on-court postgame work on the 76ers’ home court, left without speaking to reporters. Giannis – described by both Vardon and Owczarski as “agitated” – discussed the incident at length.

“Obviously I had a very bad night from the free throw line,” Antetokounmpo said, per Owczarksi. “Now, I take pride in getting better every single day. After the game I decided to go try and make some free throws. My goal, every time I step on the line is to make 10 in a row and I was shooting free throws. I was at seven, I think. A player, I don’t want to mention names, and a coach, basically told me to leave the court, while behind me there was another space to do their routine.

“I respect every player. I know some players don’t play now, they want to get some extra work, want to work on their skills and stuff, and I said, obviously we can shoot together. They told me no, this is their court, I should leave. I was like, ‘I have three more free throws, I was at seven, I want to try to make 10 in a row.’ I shot my eighth one. Came and took the ball away from me and I was very surprised. I feel like it’s very unprofessional. I would never take the ball away from a professional athlete when he’s trying to do his job.”

Harrell did post a tweet late on Friday night, briefly explaining his side of the interaction: “Aye make sure you get the complete story I ask the man can he get off the court so I can workout they had to change the court over he ignore me so hey that’s what you get! Respect is respect! GOODNIGHT!”

As for the video that showed him pushing down the ladder that arena staffers had put in front of the basket, Giannis said he wasn’t trying to disrespect anyone.

“Did I meant to push the ladder all the way down? I totally did not. I think I pushed it and it got caught and fell,” Antetokounmpo said. “But people are going to make it look the way they want it to look. I know what happened.

“I don’t know if I should apologize because I don’t feel like I did anything wrong, except the ladder just fell. I feel like it’s my right for me to work on my skills after a horrible night from the free throw line. I think anybody in my position that had a night like me would go out and work on his free throws. And if they didn’t, they don’t really care about their game.”

It’s unclear at this point whether or not any of the players involved in the postgame incident will be fined by the NBA.

Sixers Notes: Expectations, Joe, Bassey, Harris, Reed

In his preview of the coming season in Philadelphia, John Hollinger of The Athletic wonders whether the NBA world is sleeping on the Sixers after last season’s fourth-place finish and second-round exit.

As Hollinger outlines, signing P.J. Tucker, Danuel House, and Montrezl Harrell while trading for De’Anthony Melton – whom Hollinger refers to as one of the NBA’s most underrated players – helped shore up virtually all of the roster’s glaring holes, and the time might be right for the 76ers to break through in the Eastern Conference.

Hollinger is expecting big things from this year’s team, predicting that Philadelphia will finish the 2022/23 season with the second-best record in the East and will win the title, with Joel Embiid earning MVP honors.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • The Sixers are relieved not to have this year’s training camp dominated by questions about Ben Simmons‘ holdout, like last year’s was, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Head coach Doc Rivers told reporters that it’s “nice not having to deal with this stuff,” while Georges Niang suggested everyone on the roster is on the same page heading into this season. “We know who we have and you know who’s in your circle and you feel like you can build,” Niang said. “With all of us last year, it was kind of like we didn’t know who was going to get traded, who was going to come back. I think it’s good to just know who’s going to be here.”
  • Isaiah Joe, whose minimum-salary contract is non-guaranteed, isn’t a lock to make the Sixers’ regular season roster, but he says he’s not stressing about his future, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “My mindset through this is as long as I’m the best version of myself, I believe that I will be all right,” Joe said. “I believe that I will be all right, especially with the guys that we got.” Pompey suggests that the last spot on Philadelphia’s roster could come down to Joe, Trevelin Queen, and Charles Bassey, with Bassey perhaps the longest shot to make the team.
  • Originally cast as the Sixers’ third star, Tobias Harris now finds himself fourth in the pecking order behind Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey. In a separate story for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pompey explores how Harris will adjust to his new role.
  • The acquisition of Harrell seemed likely to make Paul Reed the third center on the 76ers’ depth chart, but he continues to serve as the primary backup center to Embiid so far in the preseason, Pompey writes for The Inquirer. Even Reed himself has been somewhat surprised by that decision. “I was a little shocked,” he said. “But at the same time, I still want to stay humble, you know? I don’t want to get too big-headed, you know? I want to keep doing what I’m supposed to be doing so I can keep earning more trust and keep getting more minutes.”

Sixers Sign Montrezl Harrell To Two-Year Deal

SEPTEMBER 13: Harrell’s contract is official, the Sixers announced in a press release.

SEPTEMBER 6: Free agent big man Montrezl Harrell has agreed to sign a two-year contract with the Sixers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that the second year will be a player option.

While Wojnarowski doesn’t specify the terms of the agreement, Philadelphia has already used its full mid-level exception and bi-annual exception to sign P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, respectively, and doesn’t have a ton of breathing room below the hard cap. As such, it seems safe to assume Harrell’s deal will be worth the veteran’s minimum.

A minimum-salary contract would pay Harrell $2,463,490 in 2022/23, with a $2,760,026 player option for ’23/24.

Harrell’s deal with the Sixers comes less than a week after word broke that the felony drug trafficking charge he had faced in Kentucky was reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge. If the 28-year-old remains in good legal standing for the next 12 months, the misdemeanor charge will be removed from his record.

Harrell was initially charged after police found three pounds of marijuana in his vehicle during a traffic stop in Richmond, Ky. His legal situation appeared to affect his free agent market, as it took more than two months for him to find a new NBA home after he spent last season in Washington and Charlotte.

A seven-year veteran, Harrell appeared in 71 total games for the Wizards and Hornets in 2021/22, averaging 13.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 2.0 APG on 64.5% shooting in 23.1 minutes per contest. He’s just two years removed from winning a Sixth Man of the Year award with the Clippers in 2020.

Harrell will provide the 76ers with some reliable depth at the five behind perennial MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who has battled a series of injuries over the course of his career. Veterans like Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, and DeAndre Jordan had filled that role within the last couple seasons, but none are still under contract with the team, leaving youngsters Paul Reed and Charles Bassey as the top candidates to back up Embiid.

With Harrell under contract, it’s no longer a lock that both Reed and Bassey will make the 15-man regular season roster. Assuming Harrell’s contract is fully guaranteed, Philadelphia will have 13 players on guaranteed deals, with Trevelin Queen, Isaiah Joe, Reed, and Bassey on partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed contracts. The team will have to trade or release at least two players before opening night.

Following the signing of Harrell, the Sixers will be just $766K below the hard cap, but they should get some extra relief if and when they waive players who don’t have guaranteed salaries, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Clifford, Ball, Harrell, F. Wagner

A lot changed in the three years that Steve Clifford was away from the Hornets, but the most significant move has been the addition of LaMelo Ball, who appears destined for stardom after being selected with the third pick in the 2020 draft. In an interview with Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, Clifford talked about the opportunity to coach one of the league’s best young players.

“(With) player development, the misconception is they only get better when they are young,” he said. “The better players have a goal, have a plan for every summer to get better no matter how old they are. And that’s what he’s doing. He has his things in different areas that he’s been working on.

“But I think the biggest thing for him — and I think he would tell you the same thing — is team success. The best players ultimately in our league are always judged by how well their team does. And I know he’s motivated for us to be a playoff team, which would be a good step. And I think in talking with him, that seems to be his vision.”

Ball earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 and followed that up with his first All-Star appearance last season while averaging 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.6 assists. He has already impressed Clifford with his offseason work ethic.

“He’s been great. He’s been here almost the whole summer,” Clifford said. “He likes to be in the gym. He works hard both on the court and in the weight room. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him, and I think that he’s ready or in a good place to get off to a good start. I mean, I think he’s done all the right things this summer, and I’ve been really impressed with him.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After Montrezl Harrell agreed to a contract with the Sixers, he tweeted a message of thanks for being able to spend time with the Hornets in his home state. Harrell is headed to his sixth NBA team a few months after Charlotte acquired him from the Wizards at the trade deadline. “Blessed to have played for my home state,” he wrote, “only was 20-25 games but being back in the NC state was a blessing!”
  • Magic forward Franz Wagner is questionable for the EuroBasket quarterfinals after twisting his ankle in Germany’s win on Saturday, according to Eurohoops. Wagner didn’t return to the game after suffering the injury in the third quarter. There has been no official word on his status for Germany’s next game on Tuesday.
  • In case you missed it, we looked at the over/under totals for the Southeast Division this week and examined the extension case for Heat guard Tyler Herro.

Eastern Notes: Harrell, Gafford, Raptors, Pistons

Sixers free agent addition Montrezl Harrell would ideally be used as a situational player rather than a primary backup center, according to Kyle Neubeck of In 71 games (23.1 MPG) split between the Wizards and Hornets last season, Harrell averaged 13.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 2.0 APG while shooting 64.5% from the floor and a career-high 71.6% from the line.

As Neubeck observes, Harrell will not only be reunited with former Rockets teammate James Harden, who reportedly played a major role in recruiting Harrell, but he’ll be playing under Doc Rivers once again as well — his former Clippers head coach.

Harrell won the Sixth Man of the Year award with the Clippers and Rivers a couple of years ago, but struggled defensively in the postseason, and Rivers stubbornly stuck with him. It remains to be seen whether Rivers will be more flexible with his lineups than he has been in the past, Neubeck notes.

The 28-year-old’s distinct strengths (energy, finishing at the rim) and weaknesses (size, defense) make it hard to rely on him in every matchup, but he should be well-positioned for a more defined role behind Joel Embiid, Neubeck writes.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Scouts are split in their opinions regarding Wizards center Daniel Gafford due to his inconsistency, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Robbins takes an in-depth look at Gafford’s strengths and weaknesses, using video clips and stats, and querying scouts to get a well-rounded take on Gafford’s game and what he might develop into in the future.
  • The Raptors didn’t make any splashy offseason moves, and may not be a top contender to come out of the East, but they’re not stuck in the middle either, argues Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Toronto is trying to develop young players while being as competitive as possible, which is a difficult balancing act at times, but the team has successfully managed it in the past, according to Koreen, who adds that the Raptors have consistently exceeded their expected win totals under president Masai Ujiri.
  • In a mailbag column for The Athletic, James Edwards III tackles a number of Pistons-related topics. Edwards thinks second-year wing Isaiah Livers is a prime breakout candidate, Isaiah Stewart‘s three-point shooting from Summer League should carry over into the 2022/23 season, and veterans Cory Joseph, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Kelly Olynyk should all have more trade value as the in-season deadline nears.

Atlantic Notes: J. Jackson, Barrett, Harden, Harrell, Sixers

Josh Jackson‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Raptors is non-guaranteed for now, but would become fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before October 17, the day before the regular season tips off, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Jackson is one of several Raptors players who has a significant financial incentive to make the team’s opening night roster. Dalano Banton, Justin Champagnie, and D.J. Wilson would also receive full guarantees if they’re still under contract at that point.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • RJ Barrett‘s four-year contract extension with the Knicks includes exactly $107MM in guaranteed money and $13MM in total incentives, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Like Barrett’s base salaries, his annual incentives increase by 8% a year, starting at $2,901,790 in 2023/24 and rising to $3,598,209 by ’26/27. Barrett’s starting base salary in year one of the extension is $23,883,929 — that figure will increase to $29,616,071 by ’26/27.
  • Sixers star James Harden played a major role in recruiting his former Rockets teammate Montrezl Harrell to Philadelphia, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As Wojnarowski observes, Harden’s pay cut also created room under the hard cap for the 76ers to fit in Harrell’s minimum-salary contract.
  • In his latest mailbag, Kyle Neubeck of explores the possibility of the Sixers making a trade with the Jazz, evaluates De’Anthony Melton‘s potential role, considers how Philadelphia matches up with the new-look Cavs, and discusses several other 76ers-related topics.

Montrezl Harrell’s Felony Charge Reduced To Misdemeanor

Veteran NBA big man Montrezl Harrell, who was arrested in Kentucky earlier this year on marijuana charges, had his felony trafficking charge reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

If Harrell remains in good legal standing for the next 12 months, the misdemeanor charge will be removed from his record, Haynes adds. Harrell was initially charged after police found three pounds of marijuana in his vehicle during a traffic stop in Richmond, Ky.

The reduced charge is good news for Harrell, who remains unsigned nearly two months after the 2022 free agent period opened. While the 28-year-old’s production has slipped in the last couple seasons since he earned Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2020, his ongoing availability seems more about his legal situation off the court than what he can provide on the court. Now that Harrell is facing a less serious charge, he could be in position to find a new NBA home before training camps begin in September.

A seven-year veteran, Harrell appeared in 71 total games for the Wizards and Hornets in 2021/22, averaging 13.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 2.0 APG on 64.5% shooting in 23.1 minutes per contest.

The former Louisville standout is a talented scorer, but doesn’t stretch the floor on offense and isn’t a rim protector on defense, limiting his appeal to some extent. Still, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t find a spot on an NBA roster this fall.