Following a disappointing playoff run in 2022, the Philadelphia 76ers entered the offseason knowing exactly where they had to upgrade.
Joel Embiid publicly urged the front office to sign a P.J. Tucker type of player after the second-round loss to the Miami Heat. Daryl Morey went out and inked Tucker himself on the first day of free agency.
The Sixers also lacked reliable depth beyond the starters, so Morey looked to fill the void with Danuel House and De’Anthony Melton. On paper, the Sixers looked more complete than they did in 2021-2022, but the backup center position remained a question mark.
Beyond Joel Embiid, the Sixers employed the third-year center Paul Reed and the second-year big man Charles Bassey. While the belief was that one or both of the young prospects could earn minutes behind Embiid, the Sixers kept their eyes on potential veteran signees to come in and compete for the backup five spot.
The Sixers found their guy in former Charlotte Hornets big man Montrezl Harrell. Harrell had legal trouble in the offseason, which affected his free agency market. Before everything was cleared up, Harrell had no traction on the open market.
A few weeks back, the veteran big man’s charges were knocked down from a felony to a misdemeanor, which helped issue clarity to interested teams such as the Sixers.
Not long after Harrell’s legal issues were cleared up, the veteran big man inked a two-year deal with the 76ers, reuniting with Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey in Philadelphia.
Morey Explains the Acquisition
After a busy offseason, Daryl Morey sat down to discuss his team’s progress with John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Morey explained his reason behind bringing in Harrell to compete for minutes behind the MVP runner-up, Joel Embiid.
“Trez had his best years under Doc,” said Morey on 'The Takeoff with John Clark' podcast. “[He was the] Sixth Man of the Year, and he really flourished after that Chris Paul trade that brought him to the Clippers and working with Sam Cassell.”
Similar to DeAndre Jordan last year, Harrell reunites with Doc Rivers in Philadelphia. While Jordan’s struggles continue to leave a bad taste in Sixers fans’ mouths, Philly’s front office hopes to get this Clippers reunion right this time around.
Harrell joined the Clippers ahead of the 2017-2018 season. He was the primary backup for three years, starting in just ten of 221 games. In his final season with the Clippers, Harrell earned Sixth Man of the Year honors after averaging 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Morey admitted that he didn’t anticipate signing Harrell in the offseason, and the Sixers were comfortable going in with the Reed-Bassey combo. However, when the front office realized Harrell was a possibility, they struck when they could.
“We were comfortable going in with what we had,” Morey continued. “We thought that if there was an issue, we could address it during the season. A long way of saying having a player like Montrezl or with a skill set like that, we’d love to have. We just didn’t think it would come now.”
The Sixers seem to be a complete roster for the time being. Obviously, injuries and underperforming players could cause a change before the trade deadline in 2023. For now, though, the Sixers seem more than comfortable with what they have and are happy to have Harrell coming in before camp.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.