LOS ANGELES — Montrezl Harrell doesn't know how good he's about to have it, a firsthand look at how life can be different in Los Angeles for a Laker — no more fighting for attention in a market that's purple-and-gold crazy, especially with another championship banner in their possession.
But here he was, Monday afternoon in his first official act, with a fond eye still focused on his past, insinuating a truth that was lost in the buzz of his free-agency flip. Harrell, the reigning sixth man of the year, is a Laker — but only because the Los Angeles Clippers decided not to have him back.
"This is a team that wanted me and the team that was really highly on me," Harrell said of the Lakers. "I'm honored and thankful for that and blessed to be here."
Asked specifically if he felt the Clippers wanted him, Harrell was honest.
"I mean, that goes without saying — apparently not if I'm on the other side," Harrell said. "So it is what it is, really."
It turns out that Harrell's signing is a little more confusing than it first seemed, when basketball people buzzed at Harrell's flip in allegiance. The buzz from stealing a valued player from a rival sort of dissipates when you learn there wasn't much thievery involved.
The Clippers valued Harrell's scoring, effort and emotion, but after falling short in the playoffs, needs for more floor spacing and defensive versatility were prioritized. The Clippers agreed to a deal with Serge Ibaka to fill Harrell's spot, signaling that shift in values.
But down the hallway with the Lakers, Harrell's still in a prime position to continue writing his "underdog" story on L.A.'s biggest basketball stage.
"When I was playing for the Clippers, I gave it everything I had every night when I laced up my sneakers. And now that I'm here with the Los Angeles Lakers, that's the same thing I'm gonna do here," he said. "This is my job, and I'm blessed to be on a team that was strong enough and deep enough and have the talent enough to win the championship last year."
Since coming to the Clippers in the Chris Paul trade as part of the team's rebuild, Harrell embodied so much of what the team's been about.