How Harrell joining Lakers affects Warriors in free agency


The gap between the Warriors and the NBA's championship contenders widened Thursday when Klay Thompson was diagnosed with a torn Achilles.

That gap might become a chasm with the Los Angeles Lakers' second move of free agency.

Hours after the Lakers reportedly agreed to sign Wesley Matthews on a one-year deal, agent Rich Paul told ESPN that client Montrezl Harrell, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, had agreed to join the reigning NBA champions.

Harrell, a 26-year-old big man, averaged a career-high 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Los Angeles Clippers last season. He spent the the last three seasons with the Lakers' cross-town cross-arena rivals, and his move across the hallway at Staples Center certainly knocks the Clippers down a peg (or two) among the title contenders.

Over the last week, the Lakers have added the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, the runner-up (Dennis Schroeder) and Matthews. With Anthony Davis, a fellow Paul client of Harrell and Lakers star LeBron James, expected to re-sign, the Lakers should become further entrenched as title favorites.

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The Warriors were long shots for the title to begin with following Thompson's injury, but the Lakers' agreement with Harrell could free Golden State up to sign a preferred free-agent target of its own. LA reportedly was interested in free-agent big man Marc Gasol after Dwight Howard agreed to join the Philadelphia 76ers, but the Harrell agreement could preclude the Lakers from adding Gasol.


Gasol is a center who can pass, defend and knock down 3-pointers, making him a close-to-ideal fit for the Warriors. He'd be an experienced mentor for No. 2 overall draft pick James Wiseman, and Golden State could conceivably sign Gasol using the taxpayer mid-level exception (up to $5.7 million) or the disabled player exception ($9.3 million on a one-year contract) stemming from Thompson's injury. The Warriors, however, surely would face stiff competition for Gasol's signature.