Why Trail Blazers’ summer should be focused around Montrezl Harrell

It’s never too early to look into the upcoming free agency class. Montrezl Harrell happens to be a potentially perfect fit for the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers rarely attract the big names in free agency, but it would be a grievous mistake to not at least try. Unlike last year, this class lacks real depth. After Anthony Davis, there is a major drop-off in available talent, however, there is one player who would slide in perfectly into the Trail Blazers’ system.

Montrezl Harrell has been someone I have admired for years and he’s always been a player I wished could suit up in a jersey that read “Rip City” across the chest. Harrell has come into his own this year for the Clippers and it’s time for him to cash out.

Hassan Whiteside will likely pursue one last big payday of his career, and the Trail Blazers just moved Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver for the sake of clearing cap. There is a certain freedom in free agency that the Blazers haven’t had in a few years.

Harrell fits perfectly as a Trail Blazer. A three-headed monster trio of Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic, and Harrell in the paint would bump Portland up into the tier of “legitimate contenders”. Nurkic is the most well-rounded and plays the largest presence on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, Collins has showcased his impressive defensive arsenal while Harrell packs an equally mean punch offensively.

This summer, Neil Olshey would be wise to put all his eggs in Montrezl Harrell’s basket. He’s the difference-maker this team needs. He has become a legit post presence and is a solid rebounder. He averages a hyper-efficient 19.1 points per game as the fourth option on that Clippers roster. He converts on 57.4 percent of all shot attempts —  good for 12th best among all qualified players in the NBA.

This is one of the more reasonable players for the Trail Blazers to obtain over the last few years and he may be the most beneficial. He deserves more opportunities and more looks, but that seems unreasonable on a team with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Lou Williams dominating control of the ball. Unlike Portland, the Clippers also lack a primetime playmaker to set the table for Harrell in the low post.

Take a moment and just imagine. The Trail Blazers’ opening day lineup next year is Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Montrezl Harrell, and Jusuf Nurkic. That’s a legit contending lineup and with Zach Collins (and possibly Carmelo Anthony?) off the bench, they are lethal and equipped to succeed.

Harrell is the ideal third option on offense for this team. He’s become a reliable option for teams to depend on and if they’re lucky, it to some hardware for him as the 6MOY award will probably end up somewhere in his trophy case.

And, the best part about this potential acquisition is that he’s only getting better. He appears improved within every game he plays and that’s what makes him so dynamic. Place him alongside Lillard and McCollum and there will be issues for opposing defenses.

On top of all the abilities he has in his arsenal, my favorite part about Harrell may be the intensity he plays with night in and night out. The Trail Blazers usually don’t have guys who place with that level of drive, but they’ve always needed someone who can match Dame’s ferocity.

The only concern would be the spacing with Harrell and Nurkic on the court at the same time, but Nurkic has developed a viable mid-range game and that’s why you have Collins too who can stretch outside the arc with confidence.

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The Blazers will have access to some spare cap room, and the fit works. Montrezl Harrell as a Trail Blazer would be something out of a dream and they should put all their efforts into making sure Harrell is wearing red and black come October of 2020.

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