Washington Wizards center Montrezl Harrell offered critical comments Thursday regarding the way he was used by the Los Angeles Lakers last season.
According to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, Harrell said:
"Honestly, man, I'm trying to just get back to playing basketball freely and just get back to enjoying the game and just being able to help my team on both ends of the floor. I didn't really get to be utilized how I wanted to be last year. I damn near felt like I had a season off. So, I'm using this preseason to really ramp back up and knock off a lot of the rust on my own game, really."
Harrell spent last season with the Lakers after playing the previous three seasons for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers shipped him to Washington this offseason along with Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
After setting career highs with 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game en route to being named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2019-20, Harrell was considered a huge addition for the Lakers.
Harrell had thrived coming off the bench for the Clippers the previous few seasons, and the expectation was he would do the same for the rival Lakers as a backup to Anthony Davis.
While the 27-year-old veteran didn't play poorly last season, he didn't come close to replicating the production he put up during his final season with the Clippers.
Harrell came off the bench in all but one of the 69 games he appeared in last season, averaging 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists—his lowest averages since 2017-18.
He did shoot an impressive 62.2 percent from the field, though, which bettered his 58.0 percent mark from 2019-20.
Harrell signed a two-year deal with the Lakers, meaning he will have one season to show his stuff in Washington before becoming a free agent again.
Given his success as a bench player over the years, it seems likely that Harrell will come off the bench for the Wizards, perhaps behind talented center Daniel Gafford.
While trading Westbrook to the Lakers means the Wiz no longer have a second star to support Bradley Beal, the acquisition of Harrell, Kuzma and KCP gives them considerably more depth, as does the signing of guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
If Beal plays MVP-caliber basketball again in 2021-22 and the new additions fit in well, the Wizards have a chance to be a surprise team and return to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.