Lakers Rumors: Montrezl Harrell's Decision on $9.7M Contract Option Viewed as '50-50'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 27, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dribbles during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns Sunday, May 9, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Los Angeles Lakers forward/center Montrezl Harrell is reportedly "50-50" in regards to whether he will exercise or decline his $9.7 million player option.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype provided the news Tuesday amid further rumors about a potential deal between the Lakers and Sacramento Kings:

"Montrezl Harrell’s decision on his $9.7 million player option is considered a genuine '50-50' either way at this stage, multiple league sources told HoopsHype.
"Harrell could exercise his player option and be traded. The Lakers and Kings have discussed a deal centered on Kyle Kuzma and Buddy Hield, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported. Multiple league sources told HoopsHype that Harrell and the Lakers’ 22nd overall pick were also discussed in variations of the trade talks centered around Kuzma and Hield."

The 27-year-old averaged 13.5 points on 62.2 percent shooting and 6.2 rebounds per game in his first season with the Lakers, who signed the ex-L.A. Clipper to a two-year, $18,978,900 contract during the 2020 offseason.

Harrell averaged 22.9 minutes per game during the regular season, but he fell out of the rotation during the Lakers' first-round playoff loss to the Suns. The 6'7" Louisville product averaged just 10 minutes per game and didn't play two of the six contests.

The 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year dominated during his final season with the Clippers, averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game as the NBA's top reserve. However, he was not as impactful in the playoffs then either, averaging 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game.

Last year wasn't as successful for Harrell on an individual level, but he's only two years removed from an excellent campaign. If he declines his player option and becomes a free agent, a team could certainly offer him a lucrative deal in hopes that he returns to that form.

Or Harrell can hope year two with the Lakers is a far more successful one. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report notably wrote that "most recent intel on Harrell suggests he may be leaning toward opting in."

Significant injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis hindered L.A. in 2020-21, leading to a seventh-place Western Conference finish and an early playoff exit after winning the NBA Finals the prior year. A two-month break between seasons didn't help matters either.

Perhaps a more fruitful year awaits the 2019-20 champions and Harrell, who is entering his seventh NBA campaign after two with the Houston Rockets, three with the Clips and one with the Lakers.

For now, the time and date to look out for is 6 p.m. ET on Monday. That's when teams can begin negotiating with free agents.