NBA Free Agency 2020: Latest Buzz on Montrezl Harrell, Clippers, Evan Fournier

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIMay 17, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers' Montrezl Harrell (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

In the past year, the Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as a legitimate NBA championship contender. The main reason for that, of course, was their moves to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, a pair of superstar players, last offseason.

But this offseason could determine just how much success the Clippers will have in the near future. Leonard and George are top-tier players, but it often takes a strong supporting cast for a team to compete for championships. So, if Los Angeles wants to keep up its recent success, it may need to make the right decisions this upcoming offseason.

Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding the Clippers and other free-agency topics.


What's next for Harrell this offseason?

After spending the past three seasons with the Clippers, Montrezl Harrell is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. And the 26-year-old center has boosted his value during his time in Los Angeles, especially with his performance this season as he has averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, both career highs, over 63 games.

With Leonard and George on the Clippers' roster, it's easy to see why Harrell would have interest in staying in Los Angeles for the near future as the franchise tries to secure its first NBA title. However, it's possible that won't happen, as The Athletic's Jovan Buha recently wrote that he doesn't think Harrell will sign a short-term deal.

"If anything, there's arguably more risk in Harrell not securing a long-term deal, because the holes in his game have yet to be magnified on a grand stage," Buha wrote.

Buha added that he thinks the Clippers would be better off re-signing both Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson, then using their mid-level exception to sign a player to take Harrell's spot on the roster. Things could unfold that way for Los Angeles, but it could also depend on how negotiations with Harrell go, if it might have interest in keeping him.


Are Clippers poised to build a dynasty?

When the Clippers added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last offseason, they quickly became a top-tier team in the Western Conference. And they may have been on their way to advancing past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history prior to the season getting suspended.

Things could change quickly for Los Angeles, though, as both Leonard and George could potentially become free agents after the 2020-21 season. Both players have player options for that year and wouldn't hit free agency until after the 2021-22 season if they opt in.

As Sports Illustrated's Michael Shapiro recently pointed out, the Clippers could become a dynasty if they can keep Leonard and George around for the long term and potentially add to that core in the near future.

"If Leonard and George commit to the Clippers again after 2020-21, they could quickly move to acquire a third star, fueling the Western Conference’s next dynasty," Shapiro wrote.

Of course, whether or not Los Angeles can afford another star could depend on the league's salary cap at that point and the decisions it makes this upcoming offseason. If Harrell doesn't return, the Clippers might clear some cap space that they'll use to make a run for another top-tier player in the future.


Will Fournier return to Magic in 2020-21?

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

If Evan Fournier declines his player option with the Magic for the 2020-21 season, then he'll likely be one of the top wing players on the free-agent market this offseason. However, according to The Athletic's Josh Robbins, that situation may not come to fruition.

Robbins recently wrote that he had previously expected Fournier to decline his $17.2 million player option, but he thinks that's less likely because of the uncertain salary-cap situation with the coronavirus pandemic. He now believes the 27-year-old is more likely to opt in and return to Orlando next season, which would also have an impact on the team's offseason.

"If Fournier exercises his player option, that would prevent the Magic from making a big free-agent signing," Robbins wrote.

Fournier has been a solid player over his six seasons with the Magic, and this year, he's averaging a career-high 18.8 points per game over 61 contests. So, while Orlando may have less financial flexibility if he returns, it would likely benefit from having him back on the court next season.