DALLAS - If you can't beat 'em ... get 'em to join you?
The Los Angeles Clippers, who downed the Dallas Mavericks in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs before their Round 2 collapse against underdog Denver, might be trying to re-tool the roster. ... and might find it a struggle to hold onto the unrestricted free agents about to hit the market.
Unrestricted free agents like power forward Montrezl Harrell. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Clippers and Harrell share a "mutual interest" in re-joining forces next season. And there is sense to that. Harrell, 26, is a 6-foot-8 big forward who plays on both ends of the floor, and who during the regular season averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds.
But he's free - and NBA gossip says the Mavs are interested.
The L.A. reasoning for a parting could be logical:
*The Clippers may want/need to change up their roster.
*Coach Doc Rivers reduced Harrell's role in the playoffs to the point that his numbers shriveled to 10.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per.
*He conflicted with Clippers star Paul George after Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals vs. the Nuggets.
The Dallas reasoning?
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*He's coming off a a two-year, $12 million contract, so maybe he's not going to break somebody's bank here.
*He won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award this season due to a regular-season reliability that in Dallas would surely be allowed to carryover in the postseason.
*The Mavs front office has made no secret of wishing to add some "tough-guy attitude'' to the roster. ... and Harrell, as he demonstrated with his racial-slur conflict with Doncic in Round 1, is not afraid to play the role of the heel.
At the same time, Harrell - unlike Clippers "tough-guy'' teammate Marcus Morris - took responsibility for having crossed the like with Luka, issued an apology and made his peace with Dallas' All-NBA superstar.
We've already dismissed, to our satisfaction, the idea of Morris to the Mavs; Doncic's own words give us that hint. But Harrell to Dallas? He can defend, he can play in the pick-and-roll, and maybe there is a sign-and-trade that creates a financial fit for the Mavs.
Maybe next year, Dallas can beat the likes of the Clippers? But to get there? The Mavs might be wise to get some Clippers-level talent to join 'em.