Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell and veteran Wesley Matthews are both leaving contenders for another. They are respectively joining the Los Angeles Lakers from the L.A. Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks.
Harrell will sign the midlevel exception, agreeing to a two-year contract worth $19 million, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He averaged 18.6 points (58.0 FG%, 65.8 FT%) and 7.1 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per game off the bench last season, and his departure is a massive blow to the rival Clippers.
The 26-year-old fills a frontcourt void left by Dwight Howard’s signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. Harrell can play alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James or as a reserve, as he did with the Clippers. His pick-and-roll partnership with Lou Williams over the past two years was one of the NBA’s most productive.
The news appeared to take Harrell’s former teammate, Patrick Beverley, by surprise:
Matthews, 34, sent a picture of a Lakers jersey to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes as soon as free agency opened on Friday evening. Matthews intends to join the defending champion Lakers on a one-year, $3.6 million deal, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The 6-foot-4 wing played for a veteran’s minimum contract last season, starting 67 games and averaging 7.2 points on 36.4% shooting from three-point range.
Matthews declined a $2.7 million player option to return to the Bucks earlier this week.
On draft night, the Lakers also finalized a trade that sent Danny Green and their first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Dennis Schroder, who finished second to Harrell in Sixth Man of the Year voting. Hours into free agency, the Lakers have bolstered their championship defense with high-end role players.
Matthews is an affordable replacement for Green, who started 68 games for the Lakers during the regular season, averaging eight points on 36.7 percent shooting from distance. He was traded again to the 76ers.
The Lakers have several rotational players turned free agents, but Harrell and Schroder are marked upgrades. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a priority. He filled his role well as a complementary two-way wing for James and Davis in the playoffs. Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Markieff Morris are also free agents.
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