In a season that fell well short of team expectations, LA Clippers centre Montrezl Harrell still had a strong campaign. After averaging a career-high 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, Harrell was awarded as the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.
NBA.com's Scott Rafferty has Harrell ranked as the fifth-best player in the 2020 free agent class, but when you consider the likelihood of Anthony Davis (player option) re-signing with the Los Angeles Lakers and Brandon Ingram (restricted) seeing any offer sheet matched by the New Orleans Pelicans, Harrell's name jumps two spots closer to the top of the list.
His production dipped in the playoffs, where he averaged just 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds while playing 18.7 minutes per game, but it's hard to believe the Clippers won't do what they can do re-sign their key reserve.
MORE: Making sense of the Clippers free agency situation
As a team that still has title aspirations with a core of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Harrell's pick-and-roll-mate Lou Williams, along with the fact that they're not one of the teams this offseason that have cap room to look for other answers, it makes plenty of sense for the Clippers to throw an offer at the scoring centre. Whether or not Harrell is interested in returning to LA versus taking his talent elsewhere is to be determined.
Should Harrell decide to play the field and see what other teams around the league have to offer, who are some of the teams that could look to sign him?
The Suns could be a great landing spot for Harrell, especially with current reserve centre Aron Baynes also set to enter free agency unrestricted.
With the way that starting centre and former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton can play near or away from the basket, Harrell could slide next to him at the four or continue to do what he does best, adding a scoring impact for the Suns second unit that averaged just 30.9 points per game from their bench last season - the fourth-worst in the NBA, according to HoopsStats.
Harrell would make a dream pick-and-roll partner for both floor general Ricky Rubio and budding superstar Devin Booker, also taking some pressure and attention off of Booker as a scorer when they share the court together. He'd give Phoenix a hardworking, grind-it-out-type player that perfectly fits the mould of a team trying to build off of an 8-0 stretch in the bubble that nearly saw them snap a 10-year playoff drought.
With cap space to play with in free agency, it would be irresponsible if the Suns didn't test the waters on Harrell.
Toronto would be another ideal landing spot for Harrell should their centre rotation of Marc Gasol (unrestricted), Serge Ibaka (unrestricted) and Chris Boucher (restricted) all depart in free agency.
MORE: Free agent destinations: Gasol | Ibaka | Boucher
When you add to the fact that starting guard and secondary scoring option Fred VanVleet may also end up elsewhere in free agency, a scoring presence like Harrell makes even more sense for the Raptors. Here, Harrell would likely take on a starting centre role for a team that already embodies the gritty attitude that Trezz brings to the floor in each and every game. While he's not a known rim protector like Gasol or Ibaka, he's still an intimidating presence in the paint and swatted away 1.1 shots per game last season.
He and All-Star forward Pascal Siakam make for a versatile frontcourt and he'd give All-Star guard Kyle Lowry a new pick-and-roll outlet to help Toronto produce some offence to potentially replace VanVleet or Ibaka.
This fit is based off of the cap space the Raptors would have if most of the aforementioned free agents elected not to return, but it's a realistic option in that scenario.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are an extremely enticing option for Harrell in free agency.
A max contract is likely looming for Most Improved Player of the Year Brandon Ingram but New Orleans would still have money to play with as starting centre Derrick Favors is an unrestricted free agent.
The Pelicans core of Ingram, Zion Williamson, Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball could greatly benefit from an addition like Harrell, who would bring a winning attitude to a team that will surely be competing for a playoff spot next season. With the success Harrell had in pick-and-rolls with Williams in LA, he'd see a similar benefit in a similar situation with Holiday. If New Orleans felt like he'd be better suited to continue his role as a Sixth Man to give their second unit a jolt of offence, they could start young, up-and-coming centre Jaxson Hayes and let Harrell boost their bench numbers.
Harrell to the Pelicans is definitely the most fun destination on this list and New Orleans has the cap space to make it happen.
The Hornets differentiate themselves from every other team on this list because in Charlotte, Harrell would be taking on a much bigger role. Instead of fitting alongside franchise cornerstones, he'd become a franchise cornerstone. The Hornets have plenty of young talent in guys like Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington and Harrell could be the veteran presence that gives Charlotte an identity.
He'd work great alongside both ball handlers Graham and Rozier as a pick-and-roll partner and his offensive impact from inside the paint could give the team another dimension to work with. They could still start Cody Zeller at centre if they choose to, as Harrell would give the Hornets 22nd-ranked bench scoring a much-needed boost.
He and Rozier already have a developed relationship, too, playing two seasons together at the University of Louisville.
For a team that's been either in the middle of the pack or bottom of the Eastern Conference for over a decade, making a move at a player like Harrell could be in their best interest to try and build a culture.
The Heat have cap space and Harrell would fit in nicely as a counterpart to All-Star centre Bam Adebayo, but with the intentions of keeping their books clear for 2021 free agency, it's reasonable to believe they will not be making a play at Trezz. However, should they feel like they need to add a player to help them return to The Finals next season while they wait for 2021 free agency, they would be able to make a run at the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
New York Knicks
The Knicks are another team that has the space to sign Harrell, although they spent a good chunk of change to frontcourt players last offseason like Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson. Portis has a team option and should they decline that, it would open up the door to sign a player like Harrell, but like Miami, New York may look to keep their books open for 2021 as well.
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