Sixers shake things up behind Embiid, adding Harrell on a two-year deal

Sixers shake things up behind Embiid, adding Harrell on a two-year deal

The Sixers are shaking things up at the save center.

The team is signing 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell to a two-year contract with a player option in Year 2, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon. Harrell’s deal is for minimum wage, the source said.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the news of Harrell’s signing.

The backup center was often an important and uncertain position in Joel Embiid’s time. Prior to adding Harrell, the trio of Paul Reed, PJ Tucker and Charles Bassey appeared to be the main team options behind the MVP runner-up. Reed was Embiid’s best backup in the playoffs and had quite a few positive moments, though his chaotic instincts weren’t always conducive to head coach Doc Rivers feeling comfortable with him on field.

“I feel like these playoffs have propelled me for next year in different ways,” Reed said during his exit interview in May. also scared to put me out there in the field.

Rivers and Harrell already know each other well. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Louisville product averaged 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in his three seasons with the Clippers, becoming one of the NBA’s top second-unit scorers.

While Harrell’s minutes per game in the 2019-20 campaign fell from 27.8 per game during the regular season to 18.7 during the playoffs, Rivers was widely criticized for playing too much with him given the Superior Clippers performance with Ivica Zubac on the court.

Thanks to Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, Houston was Harrell’s first professional step. Taken 32nd by Morey in the 2015 draft, Harrell spent two years with the Rockets before moving to Los Angeles in a trade for Chris Paul. Of course, this will not be his first experience alongside James Harden.

Harrell played for the Wizards and Hornets last season, posting 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

At his best, the 28-year-old is a game-changer with his efficient scoring and unmissable energy. Although Harrell rarely considers three-pointers and is a mediocre foul shooter (66.2%), he has been in the 90th percentile or higher among big men for points per shot attempt in all but one season of his career, according to Cleaning the Glass. He recorded an excellent 138.2 points per 100 shot attempts with Washington, 135.9 with Charlotte.

Harrell is not averse to small talk and tries to agitate his opponents. Dwight Howard was ejected from a Sixers-Lakers game after a back and forth with Harrell. On December 26, 2021, Harrell was ejected following an altercation with Embiid. He wasn’t happy with how Embiid handled the trade, telling reporters the five-time All-Star should “trust your tenacity.”

The Sixers started playing a former Embiid rival behind him last year, rolling with Andre Drummond in most situations until he dealt him with the Nets in their deal for Harden. They signed De’Andre Jordan in March and played the 34-year-old just under 31 minutes in total in the playoffs. Jordan started the Sixers’ Embiidless losses in Games 1 and 2 of their second-round series against the Heat and the team was outscored by 31 points with him on the floor.

Rim protection is by no means Harrell’s calling card, but it’s safe to assume he’d do better than Jordan at a spot where Embiid has been sidelined by injury. But, if Harrell is still a Sixer when the playoffs roll around, we imagine Rivers would be wise to stay away from matchups that expose him defensively. We’ll see where Reed, Tucker and Bassey fit into the backup center mix now and if Rivers experiments early in the season to determine effective bench lineups.

In August, Harrell had a felony charge of marijuana trafficking reduced to a misdemeanor possession charge, according to ESPN. Harrell pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor and will have him removed from his case after 12 months if he has no legal issues.

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