Though Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are the talk of the Los Angeles Clippers, big man Montrezl Harrell has been an essential part of the team’s success. He had a breakout 2018-19 season and has built on that even further this year. Harrell is a gritty big man who has worked hard and gotten better every year, going from a role player to a key piece on a contender. He is primed to get his payday this offseason, and according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, many executives believe the Hawks could be a summer destination for him.
It is no secret that Atlanta has been in the market for a big man. There have been numerous reports of them being interested in trading for centers such as Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, Dewayne Dedmon, and Jakob Poeltl. They have struggled on the boards all season, and that has been a considerable factor in their disappointing record. Given ownership’s reported frustration regarding the underachieving season, it seems inevitable they will bolster their frontcourt in some fashion.
For this reason, it makes sense that many believe the Hawks are in the running for Harrell. He will be a restricted free agent, but the Clippers will have to make a decision about how they should surround their superstar duo with their remaining cap space. If they feel that going in another direction is what is best for the team, they may not match offers for him. If Harrell complies with the team, they could be interested in the Hawks’ draft assets in a sign-and-trade, given the numerous picks they gave up to acquire Paul George.
The only question is the fit with the Hawks. Given the rumors out there, it appears the Hawks are looking for a big body that can crash the boards. Of the centers of rumored interest, Drummond is listed as the shortest at 6’11”. Harrell is still a great fit in terms of age, turning 26 this summer, but it is yet to be determined whether the Hawks will be comfortable with a 6’7″ center. Atlanta already has John Collins at power forward. That would be a talented duo, but while today’s era of the NBA allows teams to roll with smaller lineups, it is not congruent with the type of player the Hawks have reportedly been looking for.
Despite the questions surrounding the fit, Harrell is very talented. In a thin free agency class, he seems to be one of the few players that would move the needle. We won’t know more until this summer, but keep an eye on the Hawks as a suitor as they make it clear they are ready to make their push.