The Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets recently completed an eight player deal in which Clippers star Chris Paul was traded to the Rockets. Among the players the Clippers received in return was forward Montrezl Harrell.
Drafted in 2015 out of Louisville, Harrell played sparingly his rookie season appearing in only 39 games, averaging 9.7 minutes per game. This past season, he became more of a regular in the Rockets rotation and with an increase in minutes (18.9) he produced. He played in 58 games and started 14. His points per game shot up from 3.6 to 9.1 and he shot 65.2 percent from the field.
He didn’t play much in the playoffs, however, appearing in only five of the Rockets playoff games in only 4.2 minutes per game. Despite sometimes sporadic playing time, he will miss his time in Houston.
“We had a great system, we had a great run, unfortunately, we didn’t end the season the way we would’ve liked to,” Harrell told Basketball Insiders. “It was a great group of guys, I had awesome teammates in Houston.”
The trade was first announced on Wednesday of last week and initially, Harrell was not sure if he was a part of the trade. It was not until he spoke with the Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that he found out he would be switching uniforms.
Although he was included in the deal, during his conversation with Morey, he feels as if there was a bit of hesitation from the Rockets to send him to Los Angeles.
“They said all positive things, I definitely felt like they wanted to keep me there,” Harrell told Basketball Insiders.
While not that large of a sample size, Harrell showed a glimpse of what he might be able to do with consistent minutes while in Houston. During a 15-game stretch in which starting center Clint Capela was injured, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni inserted Harrell into the rotation and even started him a few games at the five spot.
Harrell responded with 14.2 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks during that stretch. His energy and toughness was a welcome addition to the Rockets rotation and it is that type of production that he is hoping to bring to the Clippers.
“I want to come out here and play hard, get up and down and run with these guys,” Harrell told Basketball Insiders. “I want to come into this situation and use my ability and my God-given talent to be able to help the organization.”
One of the top reasons why Harrell is eager to suit up for the Clippers is because of head coach Doc Rivers. Since his time in Orlando, Rivers has established himself as one of the better coaches in the NBA.
“He’s a great coach, one the best coaches ever, his resume speaks for itself,” Harrell told Basketball Insiders. “To be able to come over here and play for a coach like that, I’m honored and I’m just happy he gave me an opportunity to come play with the organization.”
Until the season starts, however, Harrell can be found taking part in Los Angeles’ famed Drew League. It’s his second year playing in the league and he’s enjoyed the competition.
“It gets better every year, the Drew is a great organization to play in for summer basketball,” Harrell told Basketball Insiders. “You come out here, you get to compete, and you have fun.”
While summer ball can wet his appetite for now, Harrell is eager to make a name for himself with his new team.
“Fortunately, I got put into a great situation with the Clippers,” Harrell told Basketball Insiders. “I’m definitely ready to get out there and get going.”
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