Perhaps the most shocking move of the entire offseason was the Los Angeles Lakers signing reigning Sixth Man of the year Montrezl Harrell to a two-year, $19 million contract.
Harrell has spent the last three seasons with the L.A. Clippers, and it was assumed he would leave for a contract much larger than what he signed with the Lakers. Getting Harrell for the midlevel exception is certainly a bargain, as he is one of the most offensively skilled big men in the NBA.
However, Harrell’s defense has received criticism in recent years, especially during the Clippers’ second-round loss to the Denver Nuggets. Harrell was routinely picked on by Nikola Jokic, whose ability to get whatever he wanted partially led to the Clippers blowing a 3-1 series lead.
Despite this, Harrell is confident that his ability to adapt from situation to situation will be a positive thing for the Lakers. “I play a role of whatever it takes. Whatever needs to be done. I’ve been in that Sixth Man role, I was blessed to win it, so I know how it feels not to start,” he said.
“I was called on and asked to start before. It’s all about whatever it takes to win. I’ve led or tied the league in charges over the years, so I lay my body on the line. It just goes to show you, whatever it takes to win. That’s literally what I see my role as. As far as what coach sees, I feel like we’ll all get that identity once we get into training camp, start to be around one another and put actual pieces on the floor.
“Just being able to adapt in any given situation. I felt like that’s not only in our game but in our lives as well. We had to be able to go into a bubble and could only go from the gym to back to our rooms, from the gym to games. That’s all it was, so we had to be able to adapt and deal with the things we had to in order to make things work.
“I feel like every time you got to a new team, you have to be able to adapt and grow into the plays, the system and how coaches want you to do things. I think that’s definitely one of the biggest things I can take from last season and carry it over into this one.”
Perhaps Harrell playing alongside one of the NBA’s premier defenders in Anthony Davis — as well as one of the savviest defenders and former Defensive Player of the Year in Marc Gasol — will allow him to adapt and become a more consistent defensive player.
He’ll also be playing in a system that truly prioritizes defense for the first time in his career, as the 26-year-old has only ever played for the Houston Rockets and Clippers.
Rob Pelinka sought star role players in free agency
One of the mantras of the 2019-20 championship Lakers team was to star in your role, a phrase that was popularized by Jared Dudley. Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka took this to heart, prioritizing role players who are capable of helping the Lakers improve on their depth.
He succeeded on this goal with flying colors, adding Harrell and Dennis Schroder, the respective winner and runner up for Sixth Man of the Year. Pelinka also added Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol, veterans who have been stars on both sides of the floor for their entire careers.
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