The Los Angeles Lakers were responsible for one of the biggest surprises of free agency when they were able to strike a deal with Montrezl Harrell. There were no rumors that linked the two sides together and Harrell was coming off a strong season with the Clippers. Despite those facts, he decided to stay in Los Angeles.
Nobody denies that Harrell is a good player but there are those who question if he fits with the Lakers.
“Montrezl doesn’t fit [the Lakers],” an anonymous executive told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “I don’t know how he fits with that team, but he’ll help them in the regular season for sure. But I don’t know. That remains to be seen. I think the biggest thing about getting Montrezl is that they took him from the Clippers, where he was productive. And he didn’t go somewhere else. But I’m not sure exactly how he fits with them. He needs somebody who spoon-feeds him, because he’s going to run the court and he’s going to be active on the glass. He’s going to do all that stuff — run the high pick-and-roll, dive to the basket and finish and get spoon-fed, so spacing is not great. The Lakers don’t have great spacing. So I don’t know where he fits, but he will give them a chance to rest AD and LeBron during the regular season. During the playoffs, he probably won’t be as much of a factor.”
Harrell doesn’t really fill a position of need for Los Angeles but he’s a very talented player and he’s still young. Sometimes just adding a bunch of talent and seeing what happens can work out well.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Sign up for the Heavy on Lakers Newsletter!
Lakers Are Less Physical
Something that was interesting about how the Lakers attacked free agency is that they seemed to emphasize offensive playmakers over defensive specialist. They won the championship last year on the back of their great defense but it looks like they might be switching things up.
“I think the Lakers got different,” a different executive told Amick. “I don’t know if they got better, but I don’t think they got worse. … What I mean by that is [the Lakers] were really, really good last year defensively (third in the regular season; sixth among 16 playoffs teams in defensive rating). And they were big and physical.
With the decision to replace Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee with Marc Gasol, the Lakers are a lot less athletic at center. Gasol is still a very good defender but he’s not as physical as the other two were.
Scout Believes Gasol Helps Stop Nikola Jokic
When the news dropped that Harrell signed with the Lakers, Denver Nuggets fans were very happy. While Harrell is great on offense, he’s undersized at center. He was eaten alive by Nikola Jokic in the playoffs last season. If the Lakers were smart, they’d try to avoid having Harrell defend Jokic and leave those duties to Gasol or Anthony Davis.
“I would personally say Gasol — while not having Dwight or JaVale’s rim protection and the athletic part — I would give Gasol as good a chance of giving a Jokic trouble as anyone just because he’s so heady and so smart and generally has been a good defender. I don’t put too much into the bubble (takeaways),” a scout told Amick. You can’t act like it didn’t happen, but that’s — to me — a small sample.”
Jokic might be the best offensive center in the NBA and he’s hard to stop. Having Gasol matchup on him certainly helps the Lakers. Neither guy is supremely athletic but both are very smart players. It should be a fun matchup to watch when the Lakers eventually play the Nuggets.
READ NEXT: Analyst Proposes Lakers Trade for Veteran Guard