Montrezl Harrell was almost an afterthought when he arrived in Los Angeles in the Chris Paul trade. Doc Rivers and the coaching staff weren’t sure if they would even invite Harrell to camp. Slowly but surely, Harrell evolved into a rostered player, then a rotation player, then a feature of the closing lineup as he became the Sixth Man of the Year in 2020.
The level of growth that Harrell was able to experience as a Clipper has created an eternal bond between him and this franchise, even if he is no longer a part of the team.
In his introductory press conference for the Lakers, Harrell was asked if he was interested in re-signing with the Clippers, and he said, “Honestly, I feel that, you know, if you spend your career in any place long enough, you’re gonna want to continue to still keep playing there and keep growing there. So you know of course, I still have great respect for those guys and for that organization.”
However, it doesn’t appear that the Clippers made any effort to retain Harrell in free agency. The former Clipper’s biggest ally in the organization was Rivers, and overusing Harrell was part of the reason Rivers is also no longer a Clipper. Once the coaching change had taken place, the writing was on the wall for Harrell’s exit. It is somewhat surprising that the team had so little interest in keeping Harrell, considering his productivity over the past two seasons, but they clearly identified Serge Ibaka as a better fit within Ty Lue’s system.
It sounds like Harrell would have been willing to come back for a discount if the Clippers had reached out, considering the contract he eventually signed was at a relatively low number. That conversation apparently did not happen.
Harrell said he learned from his veterans on the Clippers — Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley — about how fickle anyone’s place it the league is. “If you’re not one of the top-tier players in our league — which we all know who those players are — everybody is expendable,” Harrell said. When asked if he felt wanted by the Clippers, he responded, “That goes without saying... Apparently not if I’m on the other side. That’s what it is, really.”
It’s unfortunate that this relationship had to end on a sour note, especially because Harrell was a real bright spot bridging the Lob City era to this current Clipper team. Both sides felt the need to move on, and hopefully it works out for everyone.