- Reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell signs with Los Angeles Lakers
- Harrell struggled in the playoffs and watched his stock plummet in Round 2 loss to Nuggets
- Read below to see if the Lakers’ offseason moves make them our favorite bet to win it all
The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t playing.
Just a month after capturing the franchise’s 17th championship, they have been aggressive in reloading for a repeat. The latest piece? Snagging reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, bolstering their lineup, while weakening the roster from their rivals down the hall, the Clippers.
The Purple and Gold already topped the NBA Championship odds before the silly season began.
2021 NBA Championship Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||+290|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+650|
*Odds from DraftKings taken November 20
The Lakers were at +300 after the NBA Draft, but they’ve shortened to +290. Klay Thompson’s injury has dropped the Warriors off the top of the page, and the Clippers dipped from +600 to +650. Let’s see if the Lakers are really the team to beat.
Harrell With Something To Prove
The Harrell signing definitely was a WOJ bomb, as the prospect of the super sub joining the Lakers didn’t seem realistic. LA nabbed him with their mid-level exception, a 2-year, $19 million pact, with a player option for year two.
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 21, 2020
Besides the bargain basement price, the Lakers are getting a guy who averaged 18.6 points on an efficient 58% shooting from the field, to go along 7.1 rebounds per game in less than 28 minutes a night of work. The best season of his career also led to the Sixth Man of the Year Award, edging Clipper teammate Lou Williams and Dennis Schroder — who is now his current teammate on the Lake Show.
"Montrezl Harrell is leaving because he didn't like playing with those superstars… It is a huge upgrade for the Lakers."@Sportsreiter on Montrezl Harrell's signing with the #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/brzx76i5PF
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) November 21, 2020
It’s fitting that his signing comes just moments after Dwight Howard left to sign with the Sixers. It’s a path Harrell should try to emulate. Because for all his accolades, ‘Trezl’s stock took a major hit in the playoffs.
He was in and out of the bubble, dealing with the death of his grandmother, and never quite got up to his dominant regular season form when he returned. He averaged just 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13 playoff games, averaging less than 19 minutes a night.
— Joel Rush (@JoelRushNBA) September 16, 2020
That was compounded by the fact he was eviscerated on both ends of the floor by Nikola Jokic in the second round. The Clippers famously collapsed in that series, dropping a 3-1 series lead to get upset.
With his weaknesses exposed, what looked like an inevitable megadeal for Harrell turned into this: essentially a one year “prove it” deal. Like Howard he’ll get a shot to rebuild his stature. Still in his prime, a good year should get him to his big payday.
How Good Are The Lakers?
A team that was considered pretty flawed just rampaged through the West and won a title. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are just that good. But these offseason moves are pretty calculated, and go after the one issue that plagues most LeBron James-led teams: their team collapse when he sits.
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 21, 2020
Trading for Dennis Schroder gives the Lakers a premier role player in the league, who can step into starter minutes or dominate a second unit. Harrell can also work without needing his number called, while he does work on offense. His athleticism and ability to run the floor should be rewarded by James, and, unlike with the Clippers, he should be protected on defense with Davis able to anchor that side of the court.
Land Dennis Schroder (sixth man of the year candidate) in a steal of a trade and sign the Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell out of nowhere 👀. Rob Pelinka going after that Exec of the Year award after finishing 7th last season (after landing AD and winning the title).
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) November 21, 2020
Another sleek signing was Wes Matthews from Milwaukee, getting him for a fraction of the price they were paying an aging and mostly ineffective Danny Green. There are still pieces that need to round out the roster, but Harrell and Schroder would have easily been the third-best player on the Lakers last year. The Lakers have upped the talent around their superstar duo, and they’re still not done.
Are The Lakers The Bet To Make?
While LA has upgraded, these are not slam-dunk moves. Harrell is still undersized and unlikely a small-ball center, and doesn’t have shooting range beyond the paint. To have him on the floor will likely mean Davis is sitting or playing the 5 — a position he’d prefer not to play until closing time or in the playoffs.
Am I the only person on Twitter who's not sold on Trezz with the Lakers? Dwight made a difference by pestering talented bigs (Nurkic, Jokic, Bam)…and that, ummm, isn't Trezz's forte
— Josh Martin (@JoshMartinNBA) November 21, 2020
Schroder is coming off a year where he shot a career-best 38.5% from three-point range, but he’s just a 33.7% marksman from deep over the course of his seven years in the league. There’s still questions of whether Kyle Kuzma can elevate his game. Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be in new area codes, and they’ll need a big to soak up all those effective Howard minutes.
Still, barring James Harden going to the Nets or the Mavericks making a splash, there’s still not a team that can better James and Davis. That massive advantage makes these moves that much more lethal, and the reason they’re the easy bet to make at this time.