After coming to an agreement with veteran wing Wesley Matthews earlier in the night, the Los Angeles Lakers will also sign Montrezl Harrell to a two-year, $19 million contract, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The deal will include a player option for the second season, and presumably, will cost the Lakers their entire non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Harrell was offered more money by the Charlotte Hornets, according to the L.A. Times' Brad Turner. Harrell played for the Los Angeles Clippers last season, winning Sixth Man of the Year for the Lakers' biggest rival. Now, he's crossing the Staples Center hallway to join the Lakers.
The move is surprising given whom the Lakers were expected to target. Names like Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka made sense for the Lakers, who struggled to space the floor last season when Anthony Davis played power forward. A shooting big man might have mitigated those issues, but Harrell has taken only 50 3-pointers in his career. He is a fairly underwhelming defender as well. At 6-8, he is too small to defend top centers, but he has never been particularly strong on the perimeter either. That, in part, is why the Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs.
What he does bring to the table is a terrific offensive game inside of the arc. He is one of the best pick-and-roll finishers in basketball, and his partnership with Dennis Schroder off of the bench should work as well as his former union with Lou Williams. His energy is a major selling point as well, and his offensive rebounding should help fill the void left by Dwight Howard.
It's hard not to view Harrell, at least in part, as a replacement for Howard. What makes this such a questionable deal for the Lakers is the price. Howard signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for the minimum. Harrell is getting the full mid-level exception. The opportunity cost is massive. If Howard could have provided most of what Harrell does, the Lakers could have used that exception elsewhere to fill a different hole.
In addition to Harrell's reported new deal, Matthews has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $3.6 million contract, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The deal secures a replacement for Danny Green, whom the Lakers traded for Dennis Schroder earlier in the week alongside the No. 28 overall pick. Matthews will make only around a quarter of Green's salary, but was a very similar player last season. Both shot just under 37 percent from behind the arc, and both play strong defense.
Rob Pelinka likely has more moves up his sleeve, but his best card has now been played. The Lakers will be operating along the margins from this point forward.