Now that the Clippers’ 2020 season has reached its disappointing end, 213Hoops will work through the roster player-by-player for our “Exit Interview” series. Today’s exit interview features Sixth Man of the Year award winner Montrezl Harrell.

Basic Information

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 235 pounds

Position: Center

Age: 26

Years in NBA: 5

Regular Season Stats: 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 27.8 minutes per game on 58/0/65.8 shooting splits (60.7 TS%).

Playoff Stats: 10.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.5 blocks in 18.7 minutes per game on 57.3/20/60.3 shooting splits (60.8 TS%).

Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent

Expectations

Back when Taylor wrote the check-in for Montrezl Harrell in late June, expectations for the Clippers (and Trez) were sky-high. There was lots of talk (and rightfully so!) of his incredible partnership with Lou Williams, his value to the Clippers, and the dominant season he’d had off the Clippers bench that made him a favorite to win the 6th man of the year award. While there were some worries regarding Doc Rivers’ tendencies to overplay him, gassing him out in the 2nd half, and regarding his poor matchups with many Western Conference playoff contenders, the overall thought was that Harrell would be a big part of a Clippers’ team that had potential to make a championship run.

Reality

Things did not turn out how Clippers fans, the Clippers, or Montrezl Harrell wanted. Harrell missed the entirety of the scrimmage and seeding games in the bubble to be with his sick grandmother, who unfortunately passed away. The grieving Harrell then returned for the playoffs out of shape and out of synch with the rest of the team, and carrying a heavy emotional weight. The result was an atrocious playoff performance (the numbers above are actually boosted by his 20-point effort in the Game 7 rout at the hands of the Nuggets), with Harrell posting by far the worst advanced numbers on the team.

The Clippers consistently played worse with Harrell on the court in the playoffs. He was destroyed by Boban Marjanovic in the Mavs’ series, who prevented him from getting going offensively and scored with ease over him on the other end. Then, in the Nuggets’ series, he was picked apart ruthlessly by a Nuggets’ team that saw a weakness on defense and exploited it. The Nuggets outplayed the Clippers by a staggering margin when Harrell was in the game opposite Nikola Jokic, as Trez proved just too small to do anything to bother Jokic. Outside of individual matchups, Harrell was a nightmare defensively, with a combination of laziness and poor instincts that showed in almost every possible facet on that end. He jumped at every pump fake (even from the likes of Mason Plumlee!) was slow closing out on shooters, didn’t rotate properly on defense, and constantly leaked out on the fastbreak instead of getting in scrums for rebounds. The result was that every Clippers lineup with him on the court performed worse than the ones without him.

Even more disappointing was Trez’s offense. We all knew that his defense was a weak spot that would be taken advantage of, but the hope was that his offense would be good enough to offset the defensive deficiencies. That is not what happened. Trez only had two games with over 18 points (his season average) and both performances saw his points accumulated primarily in garbage time. He failed to punish Jokic (we saw how the Clippers got him in trouble in the Lakers’ series) and was never able to get into the kind of grooves that carried him to the 6th Man Award.

Not all of this was Trez’s fault. Doc Rivers and the Clippers’ coaching staff did not put him in positions to succeed (getting him moving off the move and with momentum going towards the basket) and continuously played him against poor matchups. Jokic and Marjanovic were just too big for Trez at both ends, and he should have played strictly when those guys were off the court. Alas, Doc went down riding his guy, and Trez was not able to reward his coach’s faith.

Future with Clippers

A year ago, Montrezl Harrell was a fan favorite, and his return to the Clippers was of paramount importance. Even in Taylor’s check-in a few months ago, Trez seemed likely to re-sign with the Clippers in the offseason, and Clippers’ fans would have been happy with the decision. Now, things are a whole lot murkier. Not only have many fans soured entirely on Harrell, but the Clippers presumably are lower on him now too, having seen him get exposed in the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Any thoughts of him getting a $20M year deal (as was rumored last offseason) has faded, but will the Clippers bring him back at all?

The rumors and leaks we’ve seen in the days since the Clippers’ exit from the playoffs suggest the team is likely to bring much of its core back. That could include Trez, who was still a major, major part of their regular season success, and who had mitigating circumstances marring his play in the bubble. That said, there have also been rumors regarding his disagreements with others in the locker room, and it’s possible he wants to move on. This is especially true since he is represented by Klutch, an agency known for getting its players paid. This is probably going to be Harrell’s biggest contract, and it makes sense that money would be a top priority for him in this free agency. The Clippers could still like Harrell, but if he wants more money, he could be gone regardless.

There’s a sense that Trez will be moving on this summer, and it’s an outcome that would probably please many, many fans, who were upset with Trez’s play and Doc’s use of him in the playoffs. If so, it would be a sad end to a Clippers’ career that was mostly joyous. Trez blossomed on the Clippers, and provided many fun performances over the past three years, especially in those surprising 2018 and 2019 seasons. If he comes back, hopefully it’s on a fairly reasonable deal that the Clippers could move in the coming years. If Harrell leaves, the best of luck to him in the future.

20 Comments

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    Hi. Thanks as always.

    >If he comes back, hopefully it’s on a fairly reasonable deal

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I don’t wanna see him play even on fucking reasonable deal!!! Yes, it was bad matchups for Trez but it’s not like there is “good matchup” for him in the Playoffs because he can’t play D and doesn’t know how to play D. He’s only playable in the regular season against bench bigs on bad teams. He’s only playable when team is up by 20-30. You can’t play him when every possession matters.

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    1. Fire Doc (I know they won’t do that.)
    2. Trade Lou/Trez

    This Lou/Trez trade doesn’t have to be an upgrade ON PAPER. New players acquired via trade don’t have to be 20+ pt scorers or borderline All-Stars. People would call them scrubs and say “Why tf did you trade Lou & Trez away lmao They’re better.” But if those new players have size & length, know their roles, can play defense or at least try to rotate on defense, it will be an upgrade. We won’t lose 40ppg. We can share the ball and maximize Kawhi/George’s talents. Without Lou, we can play Shamet effectively instead of slotting him at SF and having him guard bigger wings.

    And I remember, when they played Joakim Noah in the first couple of bubble games, they showed some nice ball movement and rotation on defense which I’ve never seen all seasong long. Old ass washed up Noah was clearly a better fit for the team than “20ppg scorer, 6MOTY” Trez. I’m not saying we should keep Noah next season. I’m saying we’re OK with letting Trez walk if he didn’t agree to the Sign & Trade. Even though we still need a legit bench big man, we won’t lose 20ppg just because we lose Trez.

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    Btw,… how about taking a flyer on Bruno Caboclo (SF/PF, 6’9″ with a 7’7″ wingspan, UFA) and invite him to training camp?

    NBA fans laugh at him and always call him “2 years away from being 2 years away” but he actually played well when he was on Grizzlies. I remember his defense was not bad at all. His ridiculous length bothered opponent wings. Knock down some 3s, throwing dunks… He can also be a lob threat and provide some rim protection. He can be our version of Jerami Grant. There is no quality player available in the FA market for wing position anyway. We can’t get a starter level wing on vet min. If Patterson didn’t come back next season unfortunately,… I don’t mind Caboclo as an end of bench guy. I’ve been watching his all games since rookie year. Our bench definitely need size/length/athleticism at the wing position. We can’t let Shamet or Lou Williams guard SFs.

    Trade Lou/Trez/McGruder($5M) away and generate some roster spots for bench center, point guard who can play D and a backup wing.
    (※McGruder’s 2021/22 contract becomes guaranteed if not waived by July 15, 2021. So technically 1 year remains on his contract. Tradeable.)

    …Sorry I’m high af right now

    • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

      Thon Maker (RFA), Kyle O’Quinn

      • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

        Wait, …. how about sign & trade Trez for Thon Maker?

        Pistons signed Justin Patton (6’11” floor-stretching big man, a talented young project) on June. Exactly same type of player as Thon. … so I feel like they’re not planning to bring back Thon next season. At least they don’t want to spend huge money on him.

        I’ve been watching him since rookie year and he’s built like a Playoff-type player.

        【Thon Maker 2018 NBA Playoff Highlights : https://youtu.be/YnED3SxTFbM】

        I watched his Playoffs performance 2 years ago and I still can’t give up him even though people call him a bust.
        Trez+Lou ⇔ Maker + Rose…?

  • Avatar Robert Dailey says:

    In my view, you simply cannot afford to have a poor defensive 5-man in the playoffs. This is especially true if, like Harrell, he plays mostly with a bench unit that includes one or more guys who are not strong defenders (e.g., Williams, Shamet). That is too many players on the court at the same time who can be targeted defensively by the opponent.

    There also appears to be a personal dislike between Harrell and George. If so, maybe that can be repaired, maybe not.

    Harrell’s contract is up and, considering the above, I wouldn’t be in favor of paying much more than he’s gotten on his expiring contract. That obviously won’t get it done, so I would let him walk (unless a sign and trade were possible).

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    If Rivers would suggest that Harrell was off because of lack of conditioning both physical and mental, how would he explain last year’s playoff performance?

    Even if the coaching staff puts in Harrell a time when he could succeed, it would only be 5-8 minutes per game in the postseason. To me, he isn’t worth the trouble even if he’s good during the regular season. I’m sure the clippers would still have a good regular season record despite the load management crap.

    As for Rivers not even seeing this, management should have another coach for substitutions. Rivers should just sit down and don’t say a word until halftime or postgame. The team don’t need his misguidance when it comes to postseason play because apparently he’s not fit for it.

  • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

    Wow. Just saw a notification on my timeline from ESPN – Doc and the Clippers have parted ways, per Woj.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    DOC is OUT!!!… YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

    • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

      Happy anniversary!!! Lets fucking gooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Avatar wwshep says:

        Ballmer had seen enough of that shit. And I’m sure the Logo told him Doc’s gotta go if we want to win a chip. Hopefully Kawhi is on board as well.

        Let’s see if Ballmer and Logo can find us a coaching genius.

      • Avatar wwshep says:

        Most excited I’ve been about Clipper bball since last July 🙂

        Seriously if Doc was sticking around I was going to boycott Clippers bball… Thankfully now I don’t have to… WOOOHOOOO!

        Now the next exciting news I’m waiting for is to hear that Clips aren’t signing Trez.

        And the Trifecta would be trade Lou.

        Let’s Fucking GO!!!!!

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      I am soooooo excited to be FINALLY done with Doc’s BS rotations, favoritism, and getting outcoached in the playoffs every year. The last of the Lob City remnants FINALLY purged… Maybe now this franchise can move on from it’s “cursed” past.