2. Signing Montrezl Harrell with the mid-level exception
The Los Angeles Lakers signed the reigning Sixth Man of the Year with the mid-level exception, signing him to a two-year deal worth $19 million. That is an absolute steal for someone of Montrezl Harrell’s caliber and he is going to be great in purple and gold.
Now, some pundits (or Clipper fans) might downplay the signing because of Harrell’s defense. Harrell got absolutely torched by Nikola Jokic in the NBA Playoffs and that cannot be ignored. However, it is worth noting that Jokic is a generational big man… and almost everyone gets torched by him.
Harrell was not a plus defender last season but he certainly was not as bad as his playoffs indicated; he posted a -0.41 defensive PIPM, making him slightly below average.
However, a big part of the problem was usage. The Clippers used Harrell as the backup five as they did not have a second traditional center on the roster. Harrell is fine as a five but he is a bit undersized and can be utilized more effectively.
The Lakers are going to be able to run him as a four more frequently, pairing him with a center (like Marc Gasol) or even Anthony Davis. The Lakers can do this as both Gasol and Davis can stretch the floor, making up for Harrell’s lack of a three-point shot.
Defensively, the centers can anchor the rim and Harrell is absolutely athletic enough to keep up with and defend NBA power forwards fairly well. Offensively, the Lakers can allow Harrell to work in the post and bang bodies down low.
It is a great pickup and a better head coach, which Frank Vogel is, is going to utilize Harrell in a way that makes him even better in the purple and gold.
It was a toss-up between this and number one, but I really liked Pelinka’s first move of the offseason, for multiple reasons.