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What Montrezl Harrell can add to the Sixers

Montrezl Harrell has been one of the league's most productive bench players over the last five seasons. But can he defend enough to make an impact in the playoffs?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers have signed center Montrezl Harrell to a two-year deal, sources confirmed to The Daily Six. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to report the news.

Harrell's deal is a minimum salary contract, which comes in at $2,463,490 for this season and $2,760,026 for 2023-24. Next year is a player option.

The salary cap impact

Since the Sixers have to remain under the $157 million hard cap, we'll start off there.

The move leaves the Sixers with 13 players on guaranteed NBA deals, along with four players (Isaiah Joe, Paul Reed, Charles Bassey and Trevelin Queen) on non, or partially, guaranteed contracts. The Sixers will have to trim the roster down to 15 before the start of the season.

The Sixers have a little bit over $765k in space under the hard cap, but that number includes the full amount of the contracts for Joe, Reed, Bassey and Queen. If the Sixers waive any of those players to trim the roster down to 15 they'll wind up with a little bit more space left under the hard cap.

You can see the Sixers' full cap situation here.

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Note: You'll often see instances where a player signed to a minimum contract only partially counts against a team's salary cap, as, under certain circumstances the NBA will prorate a veteran minimum contract down to the level of the minimum salary for a two-year vet, regardless of how much experience in the NBA has. This is done to try to prevent a scenario where a team opts to not sign a more experienced player in an effort to save money, or to save space under the cap. That would be significant here, since the minimum for a two-year vet is $1.836m, which would save the Sixers about $627k in space under the hard cap. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply in this case, though, since cap hits are only prorated down when players sign either a one-year, 10-day and rest of the season contracts. Harrell's deal is a two-year deal, so his full $2.463m counts against the Sixers' cap sheet.

What Montrezl Harrell adds

Harrell has been one of the league's most productive bench players in recent years, averaging 15.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in 25.0 minutes per game, while shooting 61.2% from the field, over the last four years, with 274 of his 285 regular season appearances coming off the bench over that span. His two best seasons came with current Sixers head coach Doc Rivers when they were both with the Los Angeles Clippers, with Harrell averaging 16.6 points per game in 2018-19, then 18.6 the following year, when he won the league's Sixth  Man of the Year award.

Despite the connection with Rivers, Harrell started his career with Daryl Morey, James Harden and the Houston Rockets when Morey selected Harrell with the 32nd pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Harden played a significant role in recruiting Harrell to join the Sixers, according to Wojnarowski's report.

Harrell gets his points in a number of ways, from offensive rebounds, to cuts off the ball, along with some opportunistic post-ups. But by far his most useful skill is as a pick-and-dive big, of which he's one of the better options in the league. In fact, Harrell has shot 68.1% as a roller off of pick-and-rolls since entering the league, according to Synergy Sports.

That's exceptional efficiency for a high-usage pick-and-roll big, especially one who is undersized like Harrell is at 6-foot-7. For reference, last year there were 98 players who finished at least 50 possessions rolling to the rim off of pick-and-rolls, and the median FG% out of that group was 53.6%. Harrell finished in the top-10 in total points scored as a roller in his last two seasons with Rivers and the Clippers, finishing 3rd in the league in 2018-19 and 10th in 2019-20, despite playing just 26.3 and 27.8 minutes per game, respectively.

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