With the March 25 trade deadline fast approaching, teams have to decide soon if they’re content with their rosters or if upgrades are necessary. For the Los Angeles Lakers, rumors have situated them searching for upgrades, but it appears not every rumor has them seeking more.
Montrezl Harrell, who the Lakers signed to a two-year deal around $19 million this offseason with a player option in the seco d year, has been as good as advertised through 43 games, primarily in the bench role he’s known for.
This season, Harrell is averaging 14.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.8 blocks on 64.1% shooting. While the per-game averages have dipped compared to last season’s numbers, which earned him the Sixth Man of the Year award, his shooting has remained efficient. His field goal percentage is his best since the 2016-17 season when he donned a Houston Rockets uniform.
However, despite the steady production he’s supplied the Lakers, it doesn’t seem Harrell is an untouchable piece to the rotation, as the Charlotte Hornets have made formal interest in the big man and L.A. has listened, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report:
Charlotte has also called the Lakers about Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles’ bruising center, sources said, and the reigning champions appear willing to entertain offers.
The Hornets are currently in eighth place in the jammed Eastern Conference, with minimal games separating teams. Charlotte has surprised teams with how energetic and cohesive they look, though losing Lamelo Ball — who LeBron James praised after the two teams faced — for the rest of the season will be tough to overcome.
However, Charlotte could benefit from a remodel to their frontcourt. Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo have alternated as starters throughout the season, and though they have been fine, they’re likely best optimized to come off the bench. The Hornets also had interest in Harrell in free agency last offseason although he chose the Lakers instead.
It is unclear what the Lakers would want in return. If L.A. seeks a big man to come back, Biyombo and Zeller, both 28 years olds, are on expiring contracts. P.J. Washington, the versatile 22-year-old power forward, isn’t likely to leave.
The same report also detailed how Devonte’ Graham could be on the outs, and the Lakers could use a ball-handling scorer who can also create for others. But Graham, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason, likely won’t be leaving anymore with the news about Ball’s situation, as Charlotte would need his services.
The Hornets also have their own first-round picks from 2021 all the way to 2027 if the Lakers want one in return since they lack draft capital, so a pick plus a player could be a hypothetical scenario.
However this trade deadline transpires, it’ll be interesting to see how L.A. values their roster as they hope to defend their recent NBA championship victory.
James’ injury may affect Lakers’ mindset at trade deadline
With LeBron James out with a high right ankle sprain, the Lakers are in a precarious situation with how they want to approach the trade deadline. The team is already short-handed as Anthony Davis and Jared Dudley are out with injuries and Marc Gasol hasn’t played in multiple weeks because of health and safety protocols.
James’ injury served as the latest blow the franchise has faced, and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said the team’s mindset entering the trade deadline may change.
“I think it certainly will impact what our mindset is ahead of the trade deadline, but I don’t know in what way,” Vogel said before Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. “I haven’t had any of those conversations overnight in the midst of a back to back. All your focus is on what do we have to do to win this game.
“We’ll get into deeper conversations in the coming days. Obviously, when you have two key guys that are going to be out, you look at the trade market differently and you look at the buyout market differently. Those are the conversations we’ll have in the coming days.”
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