Montrezl Harrell

California Notes: Harrell, Walton, Caruso, Oubre

With All-Star Lakers big man Anthony Davis sidelined through at least the All-Star break, fans may have expected to see more of reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell soaking up minutes at the power forward and center positions. Instead, his minutes are trending in the opposite direction. Jovan Buha of The Athletic examines why that might be the case.

Harrell had been averaging 24.8 MPG through February 14, but in the intervening eight games, his minutes average has declined to 20.3 minutes. “He can play against big lineups and small lineups,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “I have confidence in Trezz in both of those situations. But there’s situations where sometimes a small lineup might be better than him out there.”

There’s more out of California:

  • Current Kings head coach Luke Walton could be the next NBA head coach to be axed. He is currently in the second year of a four-year contract he signed with the Kings. Though local Sacramento broadcasters wondered whether the final year in the deal was a team option, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee hears that there is no option year. “I feel very connected with [the Kings’ front office] and very locked in as far as where we’re at and where we’re trying to go as a group,” Walton said.
  • Lakers reserve guard Alex Caruso was one of the players who rejected an invitation to compete in the dunk contest during the All-Star festivities on March 7 in Atlanta, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic. Knicks rookie Obi Toppin, Pacers shooting guard Cassius Stanley, and Trail Blazers forward Anfernee Simons have been selected for the contest.
  • Warriors swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. sprained his left wrist in a team practice yesterday and had to sit out tonight’s contest against the Trail Blazers, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN. The injury is not expected to be a long-term problem, though head coach Steve Kerr indicated that the team did not yet know whether or not it will require an MRI.

Pacific Notes: Robinson, Guy, Harrell, Housen, Clippers Staff

With rookie Tyrese Haliburton out due to a wrist injury, the Kings are using Glenn Robinson III and Kyle Guy to fill in those minutes, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Robinson played 21 minutes and Guy saw the court for six minutes during the Kings’ game against Houston on Saturday. Robinson is playing on a contract that doesn’t fully guarantee until late February, while Guy is on a two-way deal.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers’ star players LeBron James and Anthony Davis are well-known clients of Klutch Sports but Montrezl Harrell, another client, insists that had nothing to with his decision to join the team, Lakers beat writer Harrison Faigen tweets. “First of all, my agency has nothing to do with my decision (to join the Lakers),” Harrell said. Harrell signed a two-year contract in November while jumping from one Los Angeles team to another.
  • Warriors executive Eric Housen has been stuck in Detroit since the middle of last week due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, as Marcus Thompson of The Athletic details. Housen, the team’s VP of team operations, was forced into a seven-day quarantine due to contact tracing.
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said that seven staff members who have been placed under quarantine restrictions in Los Angeles are doing well, according to Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. “(They are) healthy and feeling pretty good, that’s the most important thing,” Lue said. A Clippers staff member tested positive in Salt Lake City and contact tracing led to the quarantine. Lue indicated it didn’t affect preparations prior to the team’s game in Phoenix on Sunday. “We have the ample amount of staff that we need,” he said.

Pacific Notes: Horton-Tucker, Harrell, Smailagic, Kings

Both L.A. teams are filled with stars, but the talk of the first preseason matchup between the Lakers and Clippers was second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Horton-Tucker only got into six games for the Lakers last season, spending most of the year in the G League, but he erupted for 19 points and nine rebounds on Friday night.

The performance drew online raves from his teammates, with LeBron James tweeting, “Telling you right now! This kid is flat out SPECIAL! Mark my words.” An injury slowed Horton-Tucker during last year’s training camp, but he got to display his skills during the restart and is now aiming for a rotation role.

“He’s young, but he’s got all the tools,” said new Laker Wesley Matthews. “He’s a dog. He’s tough on the offensive end, the defensive end. He’s crafty. He’s got some stuff to him, and he’s only gonna get better. I mean obviously he’s learning from one of the best (James) to ever touch a basketball.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Montrezl Harrell said he felt “definitely weird emotions” playing against the Clippers after leaving the organization to sign with its cross-town rival, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Harrell talked briefly with Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley during warm-ups before Friday’s game. “As far as seeing my old teammates and communicating with those guys, I did that after the game, for the most,” Harrell said.Lou (Williams) and Pat, I kind of spoke to before the game just ‘cause I’ve been around those guys my whole career. But this is my job. This is where I’m at. … This wasn’t a come out, ‘Hey, how are you guys doing?’ and laughing it up. Nah, I had a job to do and I had a mindset of what I came here to do.”
  • The Warriors are hoping Alen Smailagic can develop into the same type of player as Davis Bertans, writes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Golden State recognized that Smailagic would be a project when he was drafted in the second round last year, so he’s virtually guaranteed a roster spot this season, Letourneau adds. “I think there’s a lot there to work with, and he has a really good chance to be a really good player in the NBA,” Warriors two-way coach Seth Cooper said. “I’m glad that the organization is willing to see that through and hopefully reap the benefits from this investment down the line.”
  • Kings coach Luke Walton hopes Marvin Bagley III and Hassan Whiteside will be ready for preseason action next week, tweets Jason Jones of The Athletic. Bagley missed workouts because of COVID-19, while Whiteside is dealing with a mild calf strain.

Pacific Notes: Harrell, Zubac, Oubre, Kings

Montrezl Harrell decided to sign with the Lakers because he wasn’t convinced the Clippers wanted to keep him, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Speaking to the media for the first time since accepting a two-year, $19MM offer to change teams, Harrell indicated that he would have remained with the Clippers if he believed they were interested.

“I feel that if you spend your career in any place long enough, you’re going to want to still keep playing there and keep growing there,” he said. “So, of course I still have great respect for those guys and for that organization. But like I said, as far as they wanted me back, obviously it doesn’t seem that way, does it?”

The new deal for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year contains a player option for 2021/22 that could have him back on the market in July. Some observers have suggested his connection to Klutch Sports prompted him to join fellow clients LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but Harrell said that wasn’t a factor.

“As far as my decision, it didn’t have any effect, because at the end of the day, my decision doesn’t affect neither one of those guys’ lives as far as their living conditions,” he said. “I have a family I have to provide for, so my decision was my decision.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Any further roster upgrades for the Clippers may have to come through trades, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times, who identifies Ivica Zubac, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams as their best assets. A rival executive tells Greif that Zubac would likely bring the greatest return because he’s only 23 and can still develop his game. Zubac is under contract for three more seasons at a total of $21MM. Williams, who is in the final year of his deal at $8MM, may have limited trade value because of his age and defensive liabilities. Executives who Greif spoke to believe it would be difficult to unload Beverley’s contract, which pays him $27MM over the next two seasons, and the Clippers would likely have to attach draft picks to move him.
  • After being traded from Phoenix to the Warriors, Kelly Oubre appeared to take a shot at Suns owner Robert Sarver, notes Nick Friedell of ESPN“I can play for an owner — somebody who actually cares about the organization and not just the perception of the organization on the media end of it,” Oubre said in a radio interview.
  • New Kings general manager Monte McNair looked for versatile players in the draft and tried to alter the roster to better fit De’Aaron Fox‘s timeline, writes Greg Wissinger of The Sacramento Bee. That’s why he pursued 25-year-old Wesley Iwundu and 26-year-old Willy Hernangomez, although both signed with other teams.

Lakers Sign Montrezl Harrell To Two-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 22: The Lakers have officially signed Harrell, per a press release from the team. He and Marc Gasol – who reached an agreement with L.A. on Sunday – will replace JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard up front.

NOVEMBER 20: The Lakers have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent center Montrezl Harrell, agent Rich Paul tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) first reported that the two sides were nearing an agreement.

This is one of the more surprising pieces of news tonight, as Harrell has spent the last three seasons with Los Angeles’ other team, the Clippers. The big man is coming off the best year of his career, having averaged 18.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 1.7 APG in 63 games (27.8 MPG). He was named the league Sixth Man of the Year in September.

Coming off such a productive season, Harrell was expected to be in line for a significant raise, but his pay bump will be a more modest one. He’s expected to sign for about $19MM over two years, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who tweets that the second year will be a player option.

That price allows the Lakers to slide him into their mid-level exception. According to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), Harrell will be turning down more money from the Hornets to join the Lakers. It’s fair to assume the big man’s Klutch Sports connection helped seal the deal for the Lakers — LeBron James and Anthony Davis are among his new teammates who are also repped by Klutch.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN outlines (via Twitter), with Harrell getting the full MLE and Wesley Matthews being signed using the Lakers’ bi-annual exception, the team is now hard-capped and has about $20MM in wiggle room below that threshold. With nine players under contract so far, there’s still a chance the team could bring back some of its own unsigned free agents, but it’ll be a tight fit squeezing in a market-value deal for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and filling out the rest of the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Rumors: Lue, Young Players, Kawhi

After parting ways with Doc Rivers, the Clippers initially put together a list of about 10 possible candidates to replace him, according to Jovan Buha and Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The team seriously considered five of those candidates before narrowing their search to three finalists.

Although the Clippers did conduct a full search, Tyronn Lue was the first candidate they contacted following Rivers’ departure and was one of just two candidates who checked every one of the team’s boxes. As Buha and Vardon explain, the Clippers consider Lue an “elite tactician” and viewed his familiarity with the roster as a positive — having spent the 2019/20 season as Rivers’ lead assistant, Lue got to see first-hand what went wrong, and has ideas for potential solutions.

[RELATED: Clippers to promote Tyronn Lue to head coach]

According to The Athletic’s duo, the Clippers also like that Lue isn’t a “staunch idealist” like Mike D’Antoni or Tom Thibodeau, and is more willing to tinker with lineups and styles, adapting to the roster he has. The club hopes to keep Kawhi Leonard and Paul George around for multiple seasons but recognizes that the roster might change around them. L.A.’s front office believes Lue is capable of adjusting to those changes and getting the best out of his players.

Speaking of Leonard and George, they were consulted by the Clippers’ top decision-makers during the search, per Buha and Vardon. However, neither star forward wanted to steer the search in a particular direction and told the team that they trusted the front office. They were both ultimately on board with the choice of Lue.

Here’s more on the Clippers and their new head coaching hire:

  • Lue will be aiming to bring more ball movement and a faster pace to the Clippers next season, sources tell Buha and Vardon. He also intends to switch up defensive coverages more often and give the club’s younger players – such as Ivica Zubac, Landry Shamet, Terance Mann and Mfiondu Kabengele – more playing time.
  • Lue’s five-year contract is believed to be worth in the neighborhood of $7MM per year, according to Buha and Vardon.
  • The Clippers would like to establish better “synergy” between the coaching staff and front office, sources tell The Athletic. Lue is willing to work with the front office as he fills out his staff.
  • Buha and Vardon also reiterated a point that we’ve heard in the past, writing that some Clippers players – including Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Lou Williams – bristled at the preferential treatment that Leonard received during his first season in L.A. The star forward was allowed to dictate to Rivers when he came out of games and was often late for team flights because he lived in San Diego, according to The Athletic’s reporters.
  • In an Insider-only story for, Kevin Pelton offers up three areas for Lue to focus on as he attempts to get the Clippers to the NBA Finals. Those include tightening up the defense and not overreacting to a disappointing postseason outcome.

Pacific Notes: Harrell, Lakers, Howard, Suns

Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell won the 2019/20 NBA Hustle Award on Wednesday, the NBA announced in a press release. The award honors the player who makes the energy and effort plays necessary to help his respective team. 

This is the second award that the veteran forward was won this season. Last month, Harrell earned the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award for the first time. He averaged a career-high 18.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG in 27.8 MPG.

Past winners of the league’s Hustle Award include Marcus Smart, Patrick Beverley, and Amir Johnson.

Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a look at how the Lakers’ bench hasn’t been an issue and is actually one of the reasons why they are up 3-1 in the NBA Finals. In the minutes that LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis have not played, Los Angeles has performed surprisingly well. According to Hollinger, the Lakers have been +13 when James hasn’t been on the floor and have played Miami to a draw without Davis on the court.
  • The Warriors could be looking to address the center position this offseason. If they choose to do so, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area believes that Golden State should go after Dwight Howard. Poole explains that Howard would bring a defensive presence in the middle and could share minutes with Marquese Chriss, Kevon Looney, and Draymond Green. Additionally, he adds that the 34-year-old center might not cost a lot, which would be good news for the Warriors.
  • The Suns had a great run in the bubble this summer, going undefeated (8-0) and putting them in a great spot heading into next season. The team will be looking to upgrade its roster further this fall, prompting Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic to explore whether Fred VanVleet or Jerami Grant would be a better fit for Phoenix. Both players are reportedly on the team’s radar and expected to be highly sought after in free agency. VanVleet’s price tag could be $20MM per year, while Grant’s might be around $16MM per year.

More Details On Doc Rivers’ Departure From Clippers

Although the Clippers‘ official press release on Doc Rivers‘ exit from the franchise suggested that the split was a mutual decision, people with knowledge of the situation told Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times that Rivers was “surprised to learn” the club wanted to move on.

[RELATED: Doc Rivers Out As Clippers’ Head Coach]

While the coaching change may have come as a surprise, it didn’t come out of nowhere, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who reports that a divide occurred as a result of an “accumulation of philosophical differences” over the years and especially in recent weeks.

According to Buha, Rivers and team owner Steve Ballmer had multiple “candid” discussions following the team’s second-round playoff exit, exploring where things went wrong and comparing their visions of the organization’s future. They ultimately decided that they had differing visions of the path forward, resulting in what Buha refers to as a mutual decision to go their separate ways.

Rivers’ view, per Buha, was that the Clippers’ roster had some flaws and that he had tried the make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. The franchise, meanwhile, viewed the second-round collapse as “inexcusable” and considered Rivers culpable for many of the club’s shortcomings despite the unfavorable and unusual circumstances dictated by the coronavirus pandemic and the Orlando bubble.

Here’s more on the Clippers’ split with Rivers:

  • Rivers’ insistence on sticking with a struggling Montrezl Harrell over Ivica Zubac at key moments in the postseason and his reluctance to develop or empower young players during his Clippers tenure were among the factors the team considered when it made its change, according to Buha. Harrell’s energy and effort on the defensive end of the court was questioned both inside and outside the locker room, Buha adds.
  • There was a sense that the Clippers played with a “distinct lack of joy and on-court chemistry” this season and that Rivers had a hard time balancing his treatment of new stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with that of Clips veterans like Harrell, Lou Williams, and Patrick Beverley, Buha writes. The perception of preferential treatment for Leonard and George was an ongoing issue for multiple Clippers players all year.
  • The decision to part ways with Rivers was ultimately Ballmer’s, but the Clippers owner called a few key players, including Leonard and George – to get their opinions, sources told Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. None of the feedback Ballmer received changed his mind about the need for a change, and Rivers didn’t feel comfortable staying with the team without Ballmer’s full sport, per ESPN’s duo.
  • The Clippers didn’t have a specific replacement in mind when they decided to part with Rivers, and there’s an expectation that the search for a new coach could take several weeks, according to Buha, who says there’s no clear-cut top candidate yet.
  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to some executives around the NBA about the Rivers news and the most logical candidates to replace him on the Clippers’ bench.

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.