Montrezl Harrell shocked the NBA world when he signed a two-year, $18.9 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, ending his run with the LA Clippers. The 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year always talked about how he wanted to retire with the Clippers, so it was really strange to see Harrell leave LAC for the rival Lakers.
However, we are starting to get a better understanding of exactly why Montrezl Harrell decided to leave the Clippers and sign with LeBron James’ Lakers.
Montrezl Harrell was the best bench player in the NBA for the Clippers in 2019-20
Montrezl Harrell won the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year Award, establishing himself as the top bench player in the league. Before the 2019-20 season was suspended in March due to COVID-19, Harrell averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 58.0% from the field. The 2019-20 NBA Awards were based on numbers players put up before the COVID-19 hiatus.
Harrell didn’t play in the Clippers’ eight seeding games at Walt Disney World due to the passing of his grandmother. The big man left the NBA bubble and returned for the 2020 playoffs. The Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the first round in six games, with Harrell averaging 9.0 points and 3.3 rebounds.
In the Western Conference Semifinals, the Clippers matched up with the Denver Nuggets, who were led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. LAC took a commanding 3-1 series lead and it looked like the Clippers were on their way to advancing to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
However, in typical Clippers fashion, the team blew their 3-1 lead to the Nuggets and lost the series in seven games. Montrezl Harrell put up 11.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in the series, but he had a negative +/- rating in six of the seven games.
Montrezl Harrell didn’t get along with Paul George
During Game 2 against the Nuggets, Paul George and Montrezl Harrell had a “heated verbal exchange” on the bench, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Harrell was upset that George blamed him for a turnover when it was really PG-13’s fault. The two started barking at one another loudly.
Neither Harrell nor George played well against the Nuggets. Both players had zero chemistry with each other on the floor and it’s one of the main reasons why the Clippers lost the series. LAC finished the series versus Denver with a +8.8 net rating with Harrell off the floor. George, meanwhile, didn’t score in the fourth quarter of Game 7 and hit the side of the backboard on one of his 3-point attempts from the corner.
Montrezl Harrell looked like he wasn’t having fun playing the game of basketball anymore with the Clippers in the 2020 playoffs. The arrivals of George and Kawhi Leonard during the summer of 2019 created some dysfunction behind the scenes in Los Angeles and the team was never able to overcome them.
Trez left the Clippers for the Lakers due to LAC’s “hierarchical system”
Montrezl Harrell left the Clippers after a productive run because he wasn’t a fan of the team’s “hierarchical system,” according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George got preferential treatment during the 2019-20 season and that didn’t sit well with Harrell, who has worked very hard for everything he’s earned in the NBA.
Rich Paul of Klutch Sports is Harrell’s agent. The Lakers, who won the 2020 title over the Miami Heat in six games, have a bevy of Klutch clients on the roster, headlined by LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. With that being said, odds are Harrell is going to get along with his Lakers teammates a lot better than he did with his Clippers colleagues.
Clippers shooting guard Patrick Beverley was stunned when news broke that Montrezl Harrell was leaving LAC for the Lakers. However, the Chicago native should have seen the move coming after all the turmoil the Clippers went through in 2019-20.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.