Report: Montrezl Harrell Exercises $9.7M Lakers Contract Option Amid Trade Buzz

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dribbles against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Monday, March 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Montrezl Harrell's time with the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly will continue—at least for now.

Harrell exercised his $9.7 million player option for the 2021-22 campaign on Thursday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Opting in to the deal does not guarantee Harrell will remain in Los Angeles, however. Wojnarowski noted Harrell is being discussed in trade talks for the Sacramento Kings' Buddy Hield:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

That trade still needs to be agreed upon, but there's been momentum toward its ultimate completion, per sources. https://t.co/9W4KRY0YXg

It didn't always look like the big man would even make it through one season on the Purple and Gold, as O'Connor reported in March that Harrell was "involved in some trade discussions" as the Lakers looked to make some moves to clear space for a run at Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond if he was bought out.

Los Angeles eventually added Drummond without moving on from Harrell.

Harrell also turned heads on social media leading up to the trade deadline:

Montrezl Harrell @MONSTATREZZ


Montrezl Harrell @MONSTATREZZ

It’s cryptic because you can’t get the answer you wish to see, so you can write a story that still will be only writing from your opinion

The big man signed with the Lakers in November 2020 on a two-year deal that included the option for the second season. It was a major move at the time because it not only helped his new team, it weakened the rival Los Angeles Clippers.

He was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2019-20 with averages of 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Clippers.

The Louisville product was the key piece of the Clippers bench unit and provided another secondary scorer alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Harrell figured to play a similar role on the Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way like Leonard and George and eventually became that important bench player while averaging 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game.

However, he took a backseat in the postseason and averaged just 5.8 points and 9.8 minutes per game in four contests during a first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns.

For now, Harrell at least knows what his salary for the upcoming season will be. What uniform he will be wearing, however, has yet to be decided.