clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Plot twist: Sixers bringing back Montrezl Harrell on one year deal

Montrezl Harrell is coming back. Bet you didn’t think you’d read that one.

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

We got a curveball late on Thursday night. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Philadelphia 76ers are bringing back big man Montrezl Harrell on a one year deal.

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice let us know that it’s for a veteran’s minimum salary, and is fully guaranteed.

When I saw the news update I was as confused as the next person. The team recently signed center Mo Bamba.

When they acquired the former Lakers’ big, Woj, who broke that news as well, added that: “the Sixers are bringing in Bamba with the intention of keeping restricted free agent Paul Reed, but Bamba gives the team some security behind Joel Embiid if they do lose Reed.”

So about Paul Reed....

If another team strikes out on their preferred free agents, and then makes a really big offer to B-Ball, it’s just beginning to sound as if the Sixers would at least consider letting him walk, despite possessing matching rights. We’ve heard it reported they want Reed back.

And having let Shake Milton, Jalen McDaniels, and Georges Niang all walk, on top of the surprising opt in from James Harden, the Sixers have the necessary wiggle room to (barring any shocking offer sheets) re-sign Reed.

But is that really the plan? If so, it would mean rostering four bigs with Joel Embiid, Bamba, Trez, and Reed on the team. That would be...pretty weird.

Let’s put our tin foil hats on.

On Thursday, our Bryan Toporek wondered what the Sixers might be cooking up here.

Per Toporek:

“If the Sixers include P.J. Tucker in an eventual Harden trade—he has an $11.5 million player option in 2024-25—Jaden Springer is the only other player at the moment who might be under contract next offseason. (He has a $4.0 million team option.) If the Sixers declined that and wiped everyone off their books except for Embiid and Maxey, they could create upward of $60 million of cap space, depending where the final 2024-25 cap falls.”

Is it possible that offering Paul Reed a multi-season deal (let’s go with a $7M-$13M range) now would eat into that possible grand $60M total they can offer star free agents next offseason? If so, would even a seemingly team-friendly deal for an ascending 24-year-old big they’ve developed cause them to balk? This is where we get into that “are they planning for a gap year?” territory.

Bamba and Trez is a pretty dicey duo to rely on to back up Embiid, a player who necessitates a handful of load management games in an ideal world, and is relatively injury prone in reality. But I guess if your main goal is to not have anyone but Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid on multiyear deals?

Even then, why not offer a bigger one year deal to someone else? Wouldn’t it have been better to skip Trez and Bamba and just roll with Jo, Tucker, and Reed, devoting finite resources to the wing?

HoopsHype contributor Yossi Gozlan’s tweet also has me wondering....

Trez nets more money this way by opting out of his original deal, something he did in late June. And the Sixers save a little bit against their cap sheet. As Gozlan says, everybody “wins.”

Is it conceivable that Trez let the team know he was going to opt in but someone in Philadelphia’s front office foresaw this possibility, and strategized with Trez to do it this way instead....just to save a few bucks? Opt out, if you can’t find a better deal elsewhere, we’ll re-sign you for the new vet min.

Of course, there is the “James Harden likes him” theory. If Morey is in the dog house with Harden, for not offering him a longer deal, and wants to talk him out of a trade request, then perhaps this is the least he can do? Could that be why Pat Beverley, another former Rockets teammate of Beard’s, is here as well?

Doc Rivers claimed, back in mid April that he had to convince Harden that it was better to play Reed over Harrell. As self-serving and awkward as that was for Doc to say publicly, it was also semi-plausible at the same time.

(So now that Doc is gone, maybe Harden can get his guy back out there again? Kidding, I think.)

And maybe more than one (or none) of these guesses could be in play.

According to Neubeck, writing after the Trez signing, “as of now, the team is insisting they still have a desire to bring Reed back.”

On Thursday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst went on TV and teased us with “Daryl Morey has something up his sleeve … I wish I could tell you exactly what he’s planning. I know enough to know that he’s got something going on, and he doesn’t show anybody his hand.”

Perhaps there’s something brewing. But make no mistake, this is weird. Reed outplayed Trez so thoroughly last season that the news on the surface is only disappointing. Trez’s pick-and-roll defense was never good, and his rim protection at times last season was a let down as well. He brings energy, and hustle, and can rebound.

But why now? If Reed stays, then you don’t need Trez. And if Reed walks, and the only risk was another team signing Trez away, simply pivot to another cheap big man. There’s always another Whiteside or Plumlee somewhere, right?

The team owned themselves giving Trez any a two-year contract last summer. Had they not, perhaps they wouldn’t have felt the need to essentially salary dump Isaiah Joe and later Matisse Thybulle/Jalen McDaniels to help duck the luxury tax.

But last month, Trez threw them a lifeline by opting out. Now this?!

Even in the world where they think it’s better to let Reed walk, which I’m open to, the opportunity cost here of a roster spot seems too steep. There are better, younger players to take your shots on. That’s what has me leaning on those theories above.

A positive spin: I suppose if you’d offered me: “Harden opts in for just $35.6M but you have to re-sign Trez,” I’d have taken you up on that in a snap.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Liberty Ballers Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Philadelphia 76ers news from Liberty Ballers