After signing a two-year, $18.9 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers last offseason, Montrezl Harrell’s debut season didn’t go as planned.
Harrell, who won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season with the L.A. Clippers, knew what his role would be with the Lakers: Come off the bench and be a scoring threat when LeBron James and Anthony Davis needed rest.
The 27-year-old center provided that occasionally, especially when James and Davis were out with respective lower-leg injuries, but his impact just wasn’t always there.
Andre Drummond’s signing also affected Harrell’s minutes. Harrell became the third-string option at center with Marc Gasol typically being the primary backup.
In 69 games during the regular season, Harrell averaged 22.9 minutes, 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and shot 62.2 percent from the floor on 8.7 attempts.
However, as solid as those numbers appear for a reserve, Harrell’s benching during the playoffs overpowered the discourse surrounding his season.
He played 39 minutes in four appearances in the first-round series against the Phoenix Suns that went six games, but his stints either didn’t last long or came when the game was already over.
Even when the Lakers desperately needed scorers to pair with James — James and Harrell had a good pick-and-roll combo going in Game 1 — head coach Frank Vogel never drew Harrell’s card until it was too late.
Most of that involved Harrell’s deficiencies on the defensive end that would’ve likely neutralized any positives on offense. The Lakers gave him a deal illustrating his potential importance in the rotation, only for it to go to waste when it mattered most.
During exit interviews, Harrell discussed what his future with the team looks like, via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation:
Montrezl Harrell on his future with the Lakers: “As far as my future, I don’t know what that holds.”
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) June 4, 2021
It’s a vague answer, but an understandable one. Harrell has plenty of factors to ruminate over that could dictate his decision since his contract includes a player option.
Worth $9.7 million, Harrell could opt-in to receive that money knowing he might not be playing a significant role. If he goes that route, his contract could be palatable for potential trade partners.
If he declines the option, he might not get that same offer elsewhere now that teams are aware of his flaws during pivotal moments. It’s a big decision for Harrell’s future, and it’s definitely not something to take lightly.
Harrell took to Instagram to thank the Lakers for his sixth year in the league: