Montrezl Harrell

Clippers Still Working Through Chemistry Issues

Some players on the Clippers are not thrilled with the team’s preferential treatment to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, sources tell Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic. This sort of handling is common in the NBA nowadays. Stars play by different rules, however, that doesn’t mean things are always smooth behind the scenes.

Look across the Staples Center to LeBron James to see another example of stars getting different treatment. James frequently sets the Lakers’ practice and shootaround schedules, coordinating with coach Frank Vogel as they try to figure out what works best for the team. Yet, LBJ’s situation is generally accepted by teammates because of his leadership style; he has an ability to inspire and connect with his teammates in a way that facilitates it.

Leonard and George have different personalities. Leonard is a lead-by-example type and with George having the same approach, there’s a bit of uncertainty about whose voice should be the loudest.

“I think it boils down to Kawhi not talking, and so who is their true leader?” one source with knowledge of the Clippers’ dynamics said. “How do you get around that?”


After a loss to the Grizzlies earlier this month, Montrezl Harrell was particularly vocal about the team’s performance, telling the media that the Clippers were not a great team” while explaining that the club needed to “wake up and figure it out.” Harrell was asked about the vibe in the locker room and the center’s response was noteworthy.

“I don’t know, brother,” Harrell said at the time. “I don’t know. And that might be another problem right there.”

Doc Rivers addressed Harrell’s comments and Buha and Amick hear that tension had been rising in the locker room leading up to those remarks. The big man’s words also rubbed some teammates the wrong way as they felt Harrell’s post-game mood was, at times, reliant on his individual box score.

Harrell is in a contract year and could be in line for a major raise in free agency. However, sources tell The Athletic duo that the 25-year-old remains focused on the team’s goal of winning a championship over any sort of personal agenda.

“Everything he does is out of his passion for winning,” one source said. “He kind of walks to his own beat a little bit, but it’s not from a selfish perspective at all.”

Buha and Amick spoke to over a dozen sources and the entire piece is worth a read. Here are more highlights from the duo’s latest:

  • Multiple Clippers players don’t feel the team practices as hard or as seriously as it should be. Leonard’s load management plays a role in that.
  • The Clippers prefer to call the strategy with Leonard “injury management.” Los Angeles’ medical team still doesn’t consider Leonard a fully healthy player and maintains that Leonard should not play back-to-backs.
  • Leonard has become more vocal recently. He’s coordinated player-only film sessions that many around the team believe have been a key to the Clippers’ recent surge in the standings. “It wasn’t one of those crazy players-only meetings, but they started doing it two or three games ago,” Rivers said earlier this month. “They just felt like watching the game together instead of everybody watching their iPads, watching it alone, would be better.”
  • The team’s success over the next week or so (which includes games against the Heat and Lakers) could determine what Los Angeles does at the trade deadline. Many players and team employees feel the dynamics have improved and the team has begun to jell over the past few weeks.
  • Buha and Amick write that Leonard most frequently speaks with George, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Maurice Harkless. The pair notes that Leonard is not standoffish to others, but has grown the most comfortable with that group.
  • As a reminder, both Kawhi and PG can hit the free agent market in the summer of 2021, as each player’s deal contains a player option for the following season.

Trade Rumors: Iguodala, Clippers, Suns, Pacers

As we’ve heard all season long, the Grizzlies remain confident that they can trade Andre Iguodala and won’t need to buy him out of his contract, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

“We will trade him, period,” A Grizzlies executive told Pincus. “We’ve gone far enough into the structure of deals with more than one team to say that [confidently].”

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported last month that Dallas isn’t expected to pursue Iguodala, but multiple executives still view the Mavericks as the best potential trade partner for Memphis, according to Pincus. One Western Conference executive speculated that the leak to Stein was “posturing,” suggesting that the Mavs and Grizzlies may be haggling over the Warriors’ 2020 second-rounder that Dallas holds.

Pincus shared a few more trade rumors and tidbits from around the NBA, so let’s round up the highlights…

  • Aron Baynes is believed to be on the Clippers‘ radar, and Pincus notes that Sam Vecenie of The Athletic recently suggested a Baynes/Ivica Zubac swap between the Suns and Clips. It’s unclear if the two sides have actually discussed such a deal or if it would interest either club, but Pincus suggests that Baynes would be a better complement to Montrezl Harrell.
  • Speaking of Harrell, the Clippers have had internal discussions about his future, but have yet to make any decisions on that front, per Pincus. Harrell will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
  • If the Suns remain in the playoff hunt, they’re unlikely to trade Baynes. In fact, they may be more inclined to pursue upgrades, perhaps targeting power forwards like Kevin Love (Cavaliers) or Danilo Gallinari (Thunder). Gallinari is believed to be higher on Phoenix’s wish list, says Pinucs. “Not many teams will have cap space next summer. The Suns probably would be able to re-sign Gallinari at a much better price (than Love’s contract),” one Western Conference exec said. “There’s uncertainty, especially if they give up a first-rounder, but the difference in price would make Gallinari the better target.”
  • While multiple executives believe the Pacers will eventually trade one of either Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner, the team itself remains content with its “old-school” frontcourt duo, according to Pincus.

Clippers Notes: Beverley, Harkless, George, Harrell

Clippers coach Doc Rivers is concerned about the status of Patrick Beverley, who hurt his right wrist in Saturday’s loss to the Jazz, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Beverley removed himself from the game after a hard fall on a third-quarter layup attempt. X-rays showed the wrist isn’t broken, but Rivers is worried that he might be sidelined for a while.

“We knew there was no break, but that doesn’t mean he is going to be out or not,” he said. “It could be a bruise, it could be anything. He clearly felt like he could not even grab the ball, so that is not a good sign. I’m concerned a little bit about what the injury is, if it’s an injury, if it’s just a one-game thing — hopefully it’s that.”

As one of the league’s top perimeter defenders, Beverley’s absence would be significant if he is lost for an extended stretch. He is averaging 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists through 29 games.

There’s more Clippers news this morning:

  • Maurice Harkless is a good fit for the Clippers, but he may also be their most valuable asset in trade talks, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. L.A. picked up Harkless for nearly nothing by helping to facilitate the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Miami, and his $11MM expiring contract makes him an important piece for matching salaries. Sources tell Woike that the Clippers might be interested in Bulls forward Thaddeus Young, who is making $12.9MM in the first season of a three-year deal, as well as another center and an extra playmaker in the backcourt. “I just focus on what I’ve got going on here. That’s the only thing I can control,” Harkless said. “If I let myself worry about that stuff. … Man, I’ve been in the league long enough where I know how it goes. If it comes to that day, I’ll deal with it when I get there.”
  • The shoulder injuries that required Paul George to get two surgeries over the summer are affecting his approach to the game, tweets Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. “Last year, before the injury started, I was finishing through contact, finishing through defenders,” George said. “This year I’ve been shying away from contact.”
  • A flu that’s going around the team kept Montrezl Harrell out of the lineup Saturday and showed the Clippers could use some more help in the frontcourt, observes Brett Dawson of The Athletic.

Woj, Lowe On D-Lo, Mavs, MPJ, Love, VanVleet, More

Approximately 120 players around the NBA became trade-eligible on Sunday, signaling the unofficial start of the NBA’s 2019/20 trade season. To celebrate the occasion, Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe hosted an ESPN special to survey the trade market, discussing which teams are most likely to make moves and which players are most likely to be dealt.

Here are several of the highlights from that discussion between Woj and Lowe:

Western Conference:

  • The Warriors may field trade inquiries on D’Angelo Russell leading up to February’s trade deadline, but they’re unlikely to actively shop him and probably won’t move him before the 2020 offseason, according to Wojnarowski (video link).
  • Wojnarowski believes the Mavericks would like to acquire a standout center to complement Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (video link). He cites Montrezl Harrell as one player who might fit that bill, though Dallas would have to wait for the Clippers‘ big man to reach free agency.
  • The Nuggets essentially view Michael Porter Jr. as “untouchable,” says Wojnarowski (video link).
  • Wojnarowski and Lowe expect contenders to keep a close eye on Pelicans guards Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick as the deadline nears (video link). According to Woj, Holiday loves New Orleans, but it’s not clear how patient he’ll be with the team’s rebuilding process.
  • Woj and Lowe note that the Clippers pursued Marcus Morris in free agency and could have interest in him again on the trade market. Lowe wouldn’t be surprised if the club tries to see what it can get using a package of Maurice Harkless, Patrick Patterson, and its first-round pick (video link).
  • Wojnarowski views 2019/20 as a pivotal year for the Rockets, adding that GM Daryl Morey seems to have given up trying to find a way to trade for Grizzlies wing Andre Iguodala after exploring multi-team scenarios earlier in the year (video link).

Eastern Conference:

  • Wojnarowski thinks the best the Cavaliers can realistically expect in a Kevin Love trade is a protected first-round pick, an expiring salary, and another throw-in player (video link). Woj adds that it seems as if Love is “ready to go,” having lost patience with the rebuild in Cleveland.
  • Count the Raptors and Heat among teams that will be reluctant to make any moves that compromise their 2021 cap flexibility (video links). According to Wojnarowski, Toronto wants to re-sign Fred VanVleet this summer, but continues to eye Giannis Antetokounmpo for ’21. As for the Heat, they seem less likely to trade young players for veterans than they have been in the past.
  • Pistons owner Tom Gores “loves” Andre Drummond, but the club will soon have to have a serious conversation about whether to go all-in on the veteran center or whether to try to shop him, per Woj (video link).
  • Lowe thinks players like Timberwolves forward Robert Covington and J.J. Redick will be on the Bucks‘ radar if they’re available, adding that Milwaukee appears willing to go over the tax line for the right deal (video link).

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Montrezl Harrell, Clippers, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The Rockets had no idea what they were giving up when they tossed Harrell into the Chris Paul blockbuster. Harrell doesn’t have a three-point shot but otherwise, he’s a terror. He was a prime candidate for Sixth Man of the Year last season and will be once again. He’s averaging 19.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 2.2 APG despite starting just two of 22 games. Harrell will be a hot commodity as an unrestricted free agent and the Clippers will be pushed into luxury tax territory if they want to retain him. It would be worth the cost.

Glenn Robinson III, Warriors, 25, SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.9MM deal in 2019
Robinson’s last season in Indiana was a washout due to an ankle injury. His one season in Detroit was a washout due to a lack of production. With an expanded role on a bad team, Robinson is upgrading his resume. He’s averaging 32.1 MPG as a starter and averaging 11.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 2.0 APG while making 38.9% of his 3-point tries. Stats compiled under these circumstances can be deceiving but Robinson has at least regained his confidence and shown he’s worthy of a rotation spot on most teams.

Avery Bradley, Lakers, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9.8MM deal in 2019
Bradley started 10 games for the streaking Lakers this season, though he didn’t shoot well (28.6% from deep) playing alongside two of the league’s biggest stars. The big issue for Bradley in recent seasons has been staying on the court and once again, the injury bug has bitten him. He’s out at least another week with a lower leg issue. Bradley’s contract includes a $5MM player option and he needs to show he can stay healthy and productive for a long stretch in order to decline that option and test the free agent waters.

Aron Baynes, Suns, 32, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10.6MM deal in 2018
The popular Australian big man has gotten off to a terrific start in Phoenix with Deandre Ayton serving his 25-game league-imposed suspension. Baynes is averaging 14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.9 APG in 24.0 MPG through 13 games. He’s also turned into a solid three-point shooter (43.9%), adding a new element to his game. He’s been slowed recently by a calf injury but with a dearth of quality centers around the league, Baynes will get some multi-year offers as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Harry Giles, Kings, 21, PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $6.6MM deal in 2017
The 20th pick of the 2017 draft, Giles has battling injuries since entering the league. He didn’t make his NBA debut until last season, then appeared in 58 games off the bench. The Kings declined their fourth-year option on him prior to this season, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. He doesn’t have a rotation spot under new coach Luke Walton, averaging just 7.4 MPG in seven appearances this season. The same age as a college senior, Giles will get a second chance somewhere but his offers will be modest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Morant, Harrell, Hood, Gasol, Murray

The Grizzlies are playing Ja Morant limited minutes and they plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Morant played fewer than 30 minutes in four of his first five games, with the exception coming during an overtime game. Coach Taylor Jenkins hopes the approach will keep the second overall pick and anointed floor leader fresh during the 82-game schedule. “I’ve always been a big believer, you start playing in the mid-30s (minutes per game) you kind of wear down,” Jenkins said. “Our rookies, including him, have never played 82 games in a season.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Forward Montrezl Harrell continues to prove his worth to the Clippers, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times writes. Harrell, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, is averaging 19.3 PPG and 5.9 RPG to help the team weather the injury absence of Paul George. After acquiring him in the Chris Paul deal with Houston, the Clippers were so unsure about Harrell that they considered waiving him during the summer of 2017, according to Elliott.
  • Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood suffered a knee injury on Saturday but he didn’t sustain any structural damage, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports. The team’s medical staff determined that Hood has a bone bruise. Hood re-signed with Portland this offseason on a two-year, $11.7MM contract. Veteran center Pau Gasol, who joined Portland on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, has ramped up his workouts as he continues rehab from offseason foot surgery. Gasol did a series of shooting drills after a shootaround last week.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has become a more vocal leader this season and his teammates appreciate the change, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic relays. “I think it’s big-time,” fellow guard Monte Morris said. “If he’s going to be our starting point guard, everybody’s going to look for him to lead us.”
  • Nikola Jokic‘s numbers are down and Nuggets coach Michael Malone says his center must get more aggressive, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. He’s averaging 15.8 PPG, 4.3 PPG down from his average last season, while taking 2.6 fewer shots per game. “I don’t think he is, in terms of people thinking he’s checked out or not playing hard,” Malone said. “I don’t see that as the case at all. … I just have to make sure I keep on reminding him of how important he is to us, being aggressive and setting the tone.” Jokic is in the second year of a five-year, $147.7MM contract.

Clippers Notes: Arena, Patterson, Williams, Depth

Despite a loss last night to the Suns, the 2019/20 season is off to a good start for the Clippers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the same can be said about the team’s effort to build a new arena, writes Jason Henry of the Orange County Register.

Per Henry, the Clippers efforts to fast track a new home in Inglewood have stalled because the California Air Resources Board does not believe the project meets the necessary environmental standards, according to a letter written by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom considers the new arena an important economic benefit for the L.A. community, urging the Clippers and CARB to continue working toward a resolution, but the Governor will not intervene in the decision-making process by CARB, an independent body tasked with determining whether the Clippers can adequately prevent a net increase in greenhouse gases and other emissions.

“I support holding project sponsors to California’s high standards for environmental benefit and mitigation, and I hope you collectively can find a path forward,” Newsom wrote in his letter.

The Clippers want to start construction in 2021 and have the arena game-ready three years later, when their lease at Staples Center expires. It appears to remain unknown at this time how much of a barrier this issue will become to that timeline.

There’s more news from the Clippers this afternoon:

  • Andrew Grief of the Los Angeles Times writes how the role of Patrick Patterson will be a bit different this season than it ever has been before for the 30-year-old power forward. Through three games, he is averaging six three-point attempts per game, nearly three times his career average, as he embraces his new role as a spot-up shooter.
  • The Clippers are looking for Lou Williams to help form a “Big 3” with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George once George returns from injury, per Mark Medina of USA Today. Williams, who is ready for the challenge, said he really wants to win a championship before he hangs it up. “I don’t know how many cracks I’m going to have at winning a championship. I feel like we really have a good group. I don’t want that opportunity to go to waste because our mentality is not sharp. I’m just doing my part to make sure everybody is on the same page and the competitive level is there. We don’t take days off and we compete.”
  • Matt John of Basketball Insiders explores how the Clippers are more than just Leonard and George, pointing out that players like Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and JaMychal Green had already played extended minutes together before this season.

Clippers Notes: Rivers, Leonard, Harrell, Sterling

On one July night, the Clippers went from a fringe playoff contender to title favorites. Now it’s up to coach Doc Rivers to make all the pieces fit, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The Clippers won a three-team race to sign Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and they made it happen by trading for regular season MVP finalist Paul George. Rivers has experience in molding elite talent into a championship team from his days with the Celtics.

“It’s not the superstar power. I don’t care about that,” he said. “It’s about having a team that you really think can compete for a title. Having a team with superstars that you don’t believe can compete for a title is nothing. There’s a difference. Because there are teams we all have seen that, and been around and had, you may have that one superstar but you’re not winning it.”

Rivers has coached a few disappointing teams in L.A., with his “Lob City” groups repeatedly falling short in the playoffs. Even though the new version of the Clippers has little championship experience outside of Leonard, Rivers welcomes the favorite’s role.

“Teams are going to try to come after us,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing. I think we need that. It will teach us hopefully every night you have to be ready.”

There’s more Clippers news to pass along:

  • Rivers tells Washburn that Leonard reminds him of a less-talkative version of Kevin Garnett and he welcomes the challenge of coaching him. “I don’t go into it knowing one way or another,” Rivers said. “My job is to get to know him first and how he plays, what makes him play better and how well he makes the team play better.”
  • Montrezl Harrell is trying to develop into more of a perimeter threat, relays Jovan Buha of The Athletic. All the Clippers received a list of skills from the coaching staff to work on during the summer, and outside shooting was the focus for Harrell and fellow center Ivica Zubac“I feel confident in my game and where I’m at,” Harrell said. “We worked extremely hard on being able to create my shot and knowing my shot.”
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation examines the most interesting revelations to come out of the new podcast series about former Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

And-Ones: Team USA, Harrell, Redick, Hampton

Team USA appeared to replenish its World Cup training camp roster this afternoon by announcing a group of six players who will help replace the nine who have already removed their names from consideration. However, apparently not all of those six new additions are locks to attend training camp in Vegas next month.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Clippers center Montrezl Harrell is appreciative of the invite from USA Basketball, but is unlikely to actually participate for Team USA due to scheduling issues and a desire to prepare for the upcoming season.

Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that new Pelicans sharpshooter J.J. Redick has also received an invitation to join Team USA’s roster, but is still mulling over whether to accept it. While Redick would love to represent his country, he’s wary of making a six-week commitment as he and his family make the move to New Orleans.

“I’m thrilled beyond belief to be considered but also trying to work through our family’s transition to New Orleans,” Redick told Wojnarowski.

As USA Basketball continues to put together its final training camp roster, here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Top 2020 draft prospect R.J. Hampton – who will forgo college next season to play in New Zealand – has signed a lucrative shoe deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning, writes Nick DePaula of ESPN. Li-Ning aggressively pursued Hampton, according to DePaula, who says the deal’s total value would’ve made the young guard one of the four highest-earning players in the 2019 draft. Being selected in the top 10 next year will help secure a larger payday for Hampton, but ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link) hears that the 18-year-old will still be guaranteed several million dollars even if he never appears in an NBA game.
  • ESPN’s Tim Bontemps polled NBA executives, coaches, and scouts to get their thoughts on the best, worst, and most surprising moves of the offseason. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry examined the biggest questions facing the league’s new group of championship contenders.
  • What exactly does it mean when a player – or a group of players – has a workout for an NBA team? In an interesting piece for HoopsHype, Alex Kennedy spoke to players and coaches to get an idea of what individual and group workouts for NBA teams actually look like.

Team USA Updates: Millsap, Plumlee, Harrell, Select Team

USA Basketball has issued a press release announcing a series of updates relating to the team it’s putting together for the 2019 World Cup in China, as well as the training camp that will take place in August before that event. Here are the highlights of that announcement:

More withdrawals:

Nuggets big man Paul Millsap has joined the ever-growing list of players from Team USA’s initial 20-man roster who have decided not to participate in this year’s World Cup. As expected, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has also withdrawn from Team USA’s 2019 roster.

Millsap and Love join Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Tobias Harris, Damian Lillard, and CJ McCollum among the original invitees who have removed their names from World Cup consideration.

New invitees:

Team USA confirmed that Thaddeus Young, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, and Jaylen Brown will join the training camp roster for next month, as previous reports indicated.

In addition to those four players, two big men will join the roster as well, with Clippers center Montrezl Harrell and Nuggets center Mason Plumlee have received invitations from USA Basketball. Assuming the remaining 11 players from the original 20-man roster remain committed, that would bring the roster back up to 17.

[UPDATE: Harrell may turn down his invitation]

Those 11 other players are Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Myles Turner, and Kemba Walker.

Select Team:

For the first time, USA Basketball confirmed the players who will make up the Select Team at next month’s training camp in Las Vegas. The members of the 13-man Select Team will practice and scrimmage with Team USA’s training camp invitees, and will be coached by Jeff Van Gundy.

It’s possible that a player could be elevated from the Select Team to the primary roster and eventually find his way onto the 12-man squad that will play in China, but that’s probably a long shot.

The 13 players who will play for the Select Team are as follows:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Nets)
  2. Marvin Bagley III (Kings)
  3. Mikal Bridges (Suns)
  4. Jalen Brunson (Mavericks)
  5. John Collins (Hawks)
  6. Pat Connaughton (Bucks)
  7. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  8. Joe Harris (Nets)
  9. Jonathan Isaac (Magic)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Landry Shamet (Clippers)
  12. Derrick White (Spurs)
  13. Trae Young (Hawks)

Team USA’s training camp will take place during the week of August 5, while the World Cup itself is scheduled to run from August 31 to September 15.