Report: Paul George, Montrezl Harrell Had 'Heated' Exchange in Nuggets Series

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers forwards Paul George and Montrezl Harrell attend the NBA basketball team's media day in Los Angeles Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

The fallout from the Los Angeles Clippers' disappointing playoff collapse is apparently beginning.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Paul George and Montrezl Harrell had a "heated verbal exchange" during Los Angeles' Game 2 defeat.

Harrell was upset that George blamed him for a turnover when George probably erred by making a pass while Harrell was guarded by Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.:

"Harrell responded with something along the lines of, 'You're always right. Nobody can tell you nothing,' and expletives were uttered from both players, sources said. George eventually toned down his rhetoric, but a heated Harrell wasn't having it. Teammates began clapping on the sideline, in part to disguise what was going on and in an attempt to defuse the situation. The incident deescalated shortly after as coach Doc Rivers took his seat to go over the game plan."

Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported in January how the arrivals of George and Kawhi Leonard had helped create some friction behind the scenes. The report referenced how Harrell said the Clippers were "not a great team" while expressing his frustration with their performance level during a January media scrum.

At the time, it was easy to downplay details in the report as growing pains that are natural after adding two All-Stars to what was already a playoff roster. Head coach Doc Rivers had time to iron out any issues before the postseason, when the purpose of getting George and Leonard would become abundantly clear.

Instead, Los Angeles threw away a 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals and Haynes' report seemingly indicates the problems highlighted months ago never truly went away.

Harrell is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

The 26-year-old won the Sixth Man Award after averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds prior to the NBA suspending the season due to COVID-19. Between the pandemic's impact on the salary cap and poor reviews about his defensive contributions, ESPN's Bobby Marks questioned what kind of dollar figure Harrell will command on the open market.

Brad Rowland @BTRowland

The Clippers finished the series with a +8.8 net rating with Montrezl Harrell off the floor against Denver. -11.7 with him on the floor.

The Clippers are bound to make some changes in response to their playoff exit. Letting Harrell walk this offseason could be one of those alterations.