Montrezl Harrell

California Notes: Clippers Offseason, Fox, Dwight, McNair

After blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals, the star-studded Clippers face an uncertain offseason, Danny Leroux of The Athletic writes. Leroux unpacks the potential fates of three Clipper big men worth tracking during Los Angeles’s offseason.

The team can re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Marcus Morris at a 20% annual raise using his Non-Bird Rights. However, Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, also an unrestricted free agent, may command more money than Los Angeles is comfortable paying him after a lackluster postseason performance, while JaMychal Green will most likely opt out of his $5MM player option for the 2020/21 season in search of a more lucrative payday. In Leroux’s view, the Clippers may look elsewhere for centers than small-ball options like Green and Harrell.

There are more notes from the NBA’s California teams:

  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox is eligible for a maximum extension of his rookie contract this offseason. Jason Jones of The Athletic assesses the pros and cons of such a deal being completed sooner rather than later, one of the big decisions facing new Sacramento general manager Monte McNair.
  • 34-year-old Lakers reserve center Dwight Howard has emerged as a legitimate antagonist against All-Star Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during the two teams’ Western Conference Finals series, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Howard was able to use his strength and length to impede Jokic’s passing ability in a Game 2 win. “As soon as I step onto the court, I’m gonna let him know that I’m there,” Howard said after the first game of the series, also a Lakers win.
  • During his introductory team press conference today, new Kings GM Monte McNair asserted that head coach Luke Walton will remain on the sidelines for the 2020/21 season, Jason Jones of The Athletic tweets.

Pacific Notes: Simmons, Thompson, Harrell, Caruso

Swingman Jonathon Simmons is among the non-roster players joining the Warriors for their mini-camp, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Simmons joined the Warriors’ G League team in Santa Cruz in February after having played a combined 56 games with Orlando and Philadelphia in 2018/19. Zach Norvell, Jeremy Pargo, Ryan Taylor, and Roger Moute a Bidias are the other non-roster players participating in the mini-camp.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Klay Thompson will be able to practice without restrictions, but there are still some questions to be answered during the Warriors’ mini-camp, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. While reports have been encouraging, Thompson still has to show he can regain the form he had prior to tearing his ACL. Kevon Looney, who underwent core muscle injury in May, could also answer some questions about his health if he looks sharp on the court, Poole adds.
  • The Clippers probably won’t re-sign forward Montrezl Harrell unless it’s a sign-and-trade scenario, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. The likely contract demands of the league’s Sixth Man Award winner, coupled with his limitations and subpar playoff performances, make him a prime candidate for a sign-and-trade, Buha continues. The team will also look for an upgrade at point guard, though there won’t be a lot of attractive alternatives in free agency.
  • Guard Alex Caruso has become an essential role player for the Lakers and the stats prove it, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times notes. In Caruso’s 18.4 MPG during the regular season, the Lakers were 9.8 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents. During the postseason, the Lakers’ best defensive lineups have often been with Caruso on the court. He can become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

Clippers Rumors: George, Harrell, Green, More

A report last week indicated that Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and Paul George got into a heated verbal exchange during Game 2 against Denver, and Shams Charania of The Athletic suggests that wasn’t necessarily an isolated incident. According to Charania, multiple teammates had “verbal spats” with George during the playoffs, citing a perceived lack of accountability from him.

As Charania details, George preached after the Clippers’ elimination that everyone must remain committed and return next season ready to make another run at the championship. However, sources tell The Athletic that George’s comments were met with “some eye rolls and bewilderment,” since there was a sense that the star forward hadn’t backed up his words with actions during an inconsistent postseason. Additionally, a number of the Clips’ key rotation players are up for free agency, meaning the club likely won’t be able to simply run it back with the same group next season.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • Charania reiterates that rival teams expect the Clippers to explore the trade market in the hopes of acquiring a backcourt play-maker. We passed along word last week that L.A. is expected to target a play-making point guard.
  • While Montrezl Harrell and the Clippers have mutual interest in a new deal, the Sixth Man of the Year will have multiple suitors in free agency, according to Charania, who adds that JaMychal Green will also draw interest if he turns down his $5MM player option. Green received multiple offers last summer before choosing the Clippers and some of those same teams may pursue him again if he’s available, says Charania.
  • Few NBA teams that have blown 3-1 leads in the postseason have bounced back and made deeper playoff runs the following season, Andrew Greif points out for The Los Angeles Times. While the Clippers can use the 2017 Warriors – who won a title after blowing a 3-1 lead in 2016 – as an inspiration, that team added Kevin Durant after its ’16 collapse.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, George, Harrell, Catanella, Suns

Doc Rivers will likely coach the Clippers next season, but his future with the organization beyond that is sketchy, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. The way the 2020/21 season plays out will determine Rivers’ future with the franchise, Buha continues. There will be even more pressure for the Clippers to finally reach the Finals for the first time, Buha adds, and if it doesn’t happen then there could be a mutual parting of ways.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns hope their $45MM practice facility will be finished in October, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The courts are still being installed and painted, team officials told Rankin. Team owner Robert Sarver originally targeted August for the completion of the privately-financed facility.
  • New Kings GM Monte McNair is expected to retain assistant GM and salary cap expert Ken Catanella, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Catanella has been in the Sacramento front office since 2016 following a five-year stint with the Pistons.
  • Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and Paul George got into a heated verbal exchange during a timeout of Game 2 against Denver, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. George committed a turnover on an attempted half-court pass to Harrell, which was intercepted by Jamal Murray. George told Harrell the pass could have been caught if he made the right play and that made Harrell angry.

Clippers Notes: Game 7 Loss, Next Steps, Kawhi, George

The Clippers blew double-digit leads in each of their last three games against Denver, losing the series and missing out on a date with the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Having failed to advance after taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, the team was left searching for answers on Tuesday night.

As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details, head coach Doc Rivers accepted blame for the club’s shortcomings and suggested that conditioning issues played a part in the Clippers’ inability to put Denver away. However, Lou Williams and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard pointed to chemistry issues as they looked to explain the club’s disappointing postseason run.

“I think a lot of the issues that we ran into, talent bailed us out. Chemistry it didn’t,” Williams said. “In this series, it failed us.”

“We just couldn’t make shots,” Leonard said. “That’s when it comes to the team chemistry, knowing what we should run to get the ball in spots or just if someone’s getting doubled or they’re packing the paint, try to make other guys make shots, and we gotta know what exact spots we need to be. And you know, just gotta carry over and get smarter as a team. Get smarter. Basketball IQ got to get better.”

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising comment of the night came from Paul George, whom the Clippers acquired last summer in a deal that cost the team Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks, and two first-round pick swaps.

I think internally, we always felt this was not a championship-or-bust year for us,” George said, per Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • The Clippers are now very much on the clock, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who points out that Leonard and George can opt for free agency in 2021. Rival executives don’t expect the Clips to make major changes, but they could make a trade to bring in more talent if they’re willing to take on some long-term money, writes Windhorst.
  • One rival executive suggested to Windhorst that the Clippers are essentially pot-committed to their win-now approach, meaning it doesn’t make sense for them to back off now by significantly shaking up the roster. “You’ve heard of the saying, ‘In for a dime, in for a dollar’?” the exec said. “Well, they’re in for 95 cents, in for a dollar.”
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) also explored what’s next for the Clippers. As Marks points out, one of the first orders of business for the team will be figuring out which of its major free agents – Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, and JaMychal Green – can and should be re-signed. Harrell and Morris are unrestricted free agents, while Green has a $5MM player option that he may turn down.
  • Marks also notes that the Clips could offer a George a contract extension worth up to $128.9MM over three years, if they so choose. George would be 32 years old before that extension begins in 2022 though, so it’s not clear how aggressive L.A. will be on that front.

Pacific Notes: Kings’ GM Search, Harrell, Markieff Morris, KCP

The Kings will begin a second round of interviews soon in their search for a new head of basketball operations, but sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic that executive vice president Joe Dumars won’t be involved in the interview process (Twitter link). Owner Vivek Ranadive and Mike Forde of Sportsology, an outside firm hired to conduct the search, will handle the interviews.

Dumars has been a strong voice in the front office since joining the team as a special advisor, and Ranadive envisioned a power-sharing arrangement with former GM Vlade Divac. However, Divac rejected that idea and resigned from the organization last month.

Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon (link), Heat assistant GM Adam Simon (link) and Nuggets GM Calvin Booth (link) have all reportedly pulled their names out of the search, but the remaining three candidates are set to travel to Sacramento for in-person interviews, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. They are Timberwolves executive VP Sachin Gupta, Rockets assistant GM Monte McNair and former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers need to decide whether they should continue giving regular minutes to Montrezl Harrell, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Sixth Man of the Year had a minus-13 rating in six fourth-quarter minutes in the Game 5 loss to Denver and was minus-19 for the second half. Harrell ranks last on the team in the postseason in both plus-minus and net rating and has seen his rebound percentage fall sharply. Buha notes that Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been targeting Harrell on defense, inserting Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. whenever he enters the game.
  • Midseason addition Markieff Morris proved his worth for the Lakers in the series with Houston, observes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. After a lackluster performance against Portland in the first round, Morris was a difference maker against the Rockets. He turned around Game 2 with four 3-pointers in three minutes, earning a spot in the starting lineup and relegating Dwight Howard to the bench.
  • Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope received a $50K bonus for reaching the conference finals, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN, who adds that KCP will carry an $8.54MM cap hit if he opts into his contract for next season.

Clippers Notes: Harrell, Williams, Zubac, Game 2 Loss

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.

Montrezl Harrell Named Sixth Man Of The Year

Clippers center Montrezl Harrell has won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award for the 2019/20 season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Harrell beat out fellow finalists Dennis Schröder and teammate Lou Williams for the award.

Harrell, 26, enjoyed the best season of his career in 2019/20, averaging 18.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 1.1 BPG on 58.0% shooting in 63 games (27.8 MPG) for the Clippers. Although he was technically the team’s backup center behind Ivica Zubac, Harrell was typically relied upon in the team’s closing lineups.

As Fred Katz of The Athletic observes (via Twitter), Harrell’s win represents a deviation from the norm, as the award almost always goes to a high-scoring guard. In the last decade, Williams and Jamal Crawford have won the award multiple times, with Eric Gordon, J.R. Smith, and James Harden also taking it home. Lamar Odom was the last non-guard to be named Sixth Man of the Year in 2011.

The Sixth Man of the Year was one of the few NBA awards this summer whose outcome was in doubt, as Schröder and Williams also submitted strong cases. The Thunder point guard averaged 18.9 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 3.6 RPG on .469/.385/.839 shooting, while Williams – who won the award in 2018 and 2019 – put up 18.2 PPG, 5.6 APG, and 3.1 RPG.

Harrell received 58 of 100 potential first-place votes for the award, with Schröder getting 35 and Williams receiving the final seven. Here are the full voting results, per the NBA:

  1. Montrezl Harrell, Clippers (397 total points)
  2. Dennis Schröder, Thunder (328)
  3. Lou Williams, Clippers (127)
  4. Christian Wood, Pistons (17)
  5. George Hill, Bucks (17)
  6. Goran Dragic, Heat (6)
  7. Derrick Rose, Pistons (5)
  8. Davis Bertans, Wizards (2)
  9. Dwight Howard, Lakers (1)

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

L.A. Notes: 3-Point Shooting, LeBron, Harrell, Rivers

The Lakers‘ loss in their playoff opener is raising concerns that the team may not be built for the postseason, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The top seed in the West got off to a rocky start Tuesday night as a late lead slipped away against the Trail Blazers.

The starkest difference between the teams was 3-point shooting, as Portland hit 38.2% of its attempts beyond the arc while the Lakers made a miserable 15.6%. Despite having a short-handed backcourt due to the absence of Avery Bradley and an injury to Rajon Rondo, coach Frank Vogel barely used two additions who were brought to the team to provide long-distance shooting. Dion Waiters played just one minute last night, and J.R. Smith wasn’t used at all.

“We’re getting good looks. It’s just a matter of taking our time and knocking them down,” Anthony Davis said after the loss. “That’s been our whole little M.O. in the restart, not being able to consistently knock down the three-ball. … We have to make sure that when the ball comes to us, we take our time and knock down the shot. That’s the only way we’re going to clear that paint.”

There’s more on the two L.A. teams:

  • LeBron James had a historic night with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists, but he didn’t take over the game the way “Playoff LeBron” normally would, observes Joe Vardon of The Athletic, who theorizes that James might be a different player without crowd reactions. “Like I continue to say, this is different from the aspect of we’re in the bubble with no fans,” James said. “But as far as me being locked in on the game plan, that doesn’t change. Not one bit. Me going out and making plays, playing at a high level, trying to help our team win — that was the same.”
  • Clippers center Montrezl Harrell talks about his grief over his grandmother’s recent death with Mark Medina of USA Today. Harrell left the Disney World campus July 17 and wound up missing all the team’s scrimmages and its eight seeding games. He returned and completed a seven-day quarantine in time for Monday’s playoff opener. “I kind of reflected back after the game once I got to my room,” Harrell said. “That’s when I did the majority of my reflecting. More emotions came out then. It’s just different having somebody here who just means everything in the world to you, and you (were) constantly in communication with them every other day.”
  • Coach Doc Rivers reacted to an accusation from Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis that the Clippers intentionally provoke their opponents, Medina writes in a separate piece. Porzingis was ejected from Game 1 for getting involved in a dispute between Luka Doncic and Marcus Morris. “We have some guys who are agitators. I think that’s good,” Rivers said. “But I can guarantee you that wasn’t on our game-plan list. That’s just ridiculous.”

Montrezl Harrell Clears Quarantine, Will Play In Game 1

Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell has cleared his seven-day quarantine, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk tweets. He will see limited action on Monday night against Dallas in the opener of their Western Conference first-round series, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.

Harrell hasn’t played or scrimmaged since the team left Los Angeles and settled in at the Orlando campus. Harrell departed the campus in mid-July due to his grandmother’s death and the team allowed him as much time as he needed to grieve. He finally returned to Orlando last Monday and was placed under seven-day quarantine.

During his absence, Harrell was named one of the three finalists for the Sixth Man of the Year award along with teammate Lou Williams and Oklahoma City’s Dennis Schroder.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the media during his pregame remote press conference on Monday that Harrell will be eased back into action.

“It’ll be very little, would be my guess,” Rivers said of how much Harrell would play in the opener. “It’s amazing, we’re using a playoff game to get a guy back in rhythm.”

Once in rhythm, Harrell is one of the key pieces to a potential championship. He averaged a career-best 18.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 1.1 BPG in 27.8 MPG over 63 regular-season games this season.

Harrell, who is making $6MM this season, will be one of the top unrestricted free agents on the offseason market.