The Los Angeles Lakers head into the offseason much earlier than expected after a disappointing playoff exit. The front office now holds several important roster decisions ahead. Before the Lakers venture that route, big man Montrezl Harrell may have fired a subtle shot.
Lakers’ NBA title bid disappointingly ends
The Lakers entered the 2020-21 season hoping to push toward a second straight NBA title.
However, Los Angeles fell well short of that lofty goal, bowing out in the first round of the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns. Significant injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis and inconsistent play from the supporting cast resulted in a disappointing postseason departure.
As the Lakers head into a long offseason, one of their key players fired an indirect shot at the team.
Montrezl Harrell fires a subtle shot at the Lakers: ‘I played the role I was asked to play’
Among the Lakers‘ notable offseason moves last summer included signing former Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.
The 27-year-old arrived in Los Angeles with an opportunity to play a significant role off the bench. The 2020-21 season didn’t exactly unfold in that manner as he averaged 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds on 62.2% shooting in 22.9 minutes per game in 69 appearances.
Harrell’s role diminished as the season progressed along, falling out of the graces with head coach Frank Vogel’s confidence regarding his impact in the rotation. He was a complete non-factor in the first-round playoff series against the Suns, averaging 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds on 57.1%, shooting in a 9.8 per contest in four games.
Harrell fell into a similar path that he experienced in last year’s playoffs in the Orlando Bubble as his playing time significantly dwindled. After the Lakers’ early playoff exit, the veteran big man took to Instagram to fire back at haters while sending a subtle shot at the franchise.
“I played the role I was asked to play,” Harrell said.
His comments are bluntly honest as he only controlled what he could through the minutes he received. Harrell never became a distraction or aired public frustration, especially in the playoffs.
He now heads toward a tough offseason decision with a $9.7 million player option for the 2021-22 season. Harrell will have complete control, while his exit interview didn’t offer a clue what he plans to do. It’s a massive decision that could significantly impact his and the Lakers’ short-term future.
Los Angeles holds busy offseason ahead
Harrell’s contract situation is among the many roster decisions that will shape the Lakers‘ offseason route.
The 27-year-old holds full autonomy over his contract option for next season, but it may be in his best interest to decline it to land in a more favorable situation. Harrell’s diminished role doesn’t exactly fuel a robust free-agent market, but he will have suitors.
Regardless of what the veteran big man does, the front office has several other key players hitting the open market, such as Dennis Schroder, Andre Drummond, Alex Caruso, Talen-Horton Tucker, and Markieff Morris. Early indications suggest that the team desires to keep Horton-Tucker, Caruso, and Drummond.
Meanwhile, Schroder’s desire for a lucrative contract along with his porous playoff play may push him out the door in Los Angeles. The Lakers may explore the trade market for Kyle Kuzma, who previously inked a three-year, $40 million deal last December.
Ultimately, the front office will venture the direction that it believes will maximize James’ NBA championship window alongside Davis.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.