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Report: 76ers to sign veteran Montrezl Harrell as backup center

Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 05: Montrezl Harrell #8 of the Charlotte Hornets looks on against the Miami Heat during the second half at FTX Arena on April 05, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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Among the keys for the 76ers regular season is to keep Joel Embiid healthy. That, in part, means keeping his minutes under control.

Enter Montrezl Harrell.

The 76ers have agreed to terms with former Sixth Man of the Year Harrell, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Signing Harrell fills a big need on the 76ers — Paul Reed was the best backup five they had — and to get him at the minimum is a steal (even if he opts out of the second year of the contract). He also has a strong history with 76ers coach Doc Rivers as well as playing with James Harden (who reportedly helped recruit Harrell).

Harrell may have been the best big man still available as a free agent. The reason he was available was a felony arrest for marijuana possession this offseason, but the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

To use a baseball analogy, Harrell is an “innings eater” — he can walk in the door and give the 76ers 20+ solid minutes a night at the four/five, taking some load off Embiid. Last season Harrell averaged 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds a game, with an efficient 67.2 true shooting percentage (he split time between Charlotte and Washington). Harrell understands his role as an energy big off the bench. He sets a good pick, rolls hard to the rim and can finish (something that should pair well on the second unit with James Harden or Tyrese Maxey). He’s also strong on the glass.

This is not a signing that helps the 76ers title hopes directly — Harrell doesn’t defend well, doesn’t space the floor, and once the playoffs start is role will largely disappear (especially after the first round). But if Harrell can help Philadelphia get Embiid into the playoffs healthy — something he was not last year — then this is a signing that works.