When the Los Angeles Lakers signed big man Montrezl Harrell this past offseason, the idea was to find a secondary scoring option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
It made perfect sense. Harrell, 27, was coming off a 2019-20 season with the Los Angeles Clippers that saw him average nearly 19 points on 58% shooting from the field en route to earning NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors.
Fast forward several months, and the Lakers might now be in a different situation. Both James (ankle) and Davis (Achilles) are sidelined for the foreseeable future to injury. One might think this would force Montrezl Harrell into a primary scoring role for the defending champs. Not so fast.
With just a few days to go before the NBA trade deadline, reports suggest that Los Angeles is willing to listen to offers for the former second-round pick from Louisville.
“Charlotte has also called the Lakers about Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles’ bruising center, and the reigning champions appear willing to entertain offers,” Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer noted on Monday.
Well, Harrell took to social media later in the day to send out a cryptic tweet that had the masses talking. It did not include a single word. Rather, just one emoji.
Unless Harrell was really excited about having Del Taco or something for lunch, it’s hard to call this a coincidence. His name being bandied about in trade rumors heading into Thursday’s deadline has to be considered pretty darn surprising.
Thus far this season, Harrell is averaging 14.7 points and 6.6 rebounds on a resounding 64% shooting from the field. He’s actually the Lakers’ fourth-leading scorer behind James, Davis and Dennis Schröder on the campaign.
Why would the Los Angeles Lakers trade Montrezl Harrell?
Delving further into it, a move could make sense. As with pretty much every other team heading into the deadline, it’s about the finances. Harrell is playing under a two-year, $18.98 million contract.
The Lakers are hard-capped. If they are looking for an upgrade elsewhere, moving more expensive contracts might make sense. There’s also something to be said about Harrell’s issues on the defensive end of the court.
Even then, moving on from someone who can score 20 points on a nightly basis might not make sense with both James and Davis sidelined. Los Angeles would have to find a major upgrade in order to pull the trigger before Thursday’s deadline.
The issue here is that non-contending teams are not going to have interest in adding Harrell to the mix given that he can opt out of his contract this summer.
As for the Charlotte Hornets’ potential interest, the recent season-ending injury to top NBA Rookie of the Year candidate LaMelo Ball might change the dynamics a bit.
At this point, it seems more likely that Los Angeles looks to the buyout market for veteran reinforcements and hopes for the best as it relates to the team’s top stars.
The defending champs enter this week’s action with a 28-15 record and as the third seed in the Western Conference. It’s not desperation time for general manager Rob Pelinka and Co.
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