Thursday, January 27 2022

Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schröder were the top two finishers for the NBA’s 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year award, and when they united as members of the Los Angeles Lakers a year later, they likely expected to benefit enormously from the other’s presence. Schröder was entering the final season of his contract and a strong year with Harrell would have helped him earn a hefty free agent contract. Harrell, meanwhile, had just thrived as Lou Williams‘ pick-and-roll partner with the Clippers. He took a discount to join the Lakers on a one-year deal hoping that success with Schröder as his partner would get him a bigger payday a year down the line.

Well… we know what wound up happening. LeBron James and Anthony Davis got hurt, which thrust Schröder and Harrell into bigger roles than they were capable of handling. The Lakers lost in the first round to the Phoenix Suns. Harrell was held out of the rotation in Games 2 and 3 in favor of Andre Drummond and Marc Gasol. Schröder went scoreless in Game 4. Harrell, knowing no payday awaited him in free agency, picked up his player option and was dealt to the Washington Wizards. Schröder lacked that self-awareness. He declined an $84 million extension from the Lakers during the season and was forced to take less than $6 million from the Boston Celtics. Their brief Laker tenures were disasters. 

And on Saturday, they faced off as opponents again for the first time since splitting up. Harrell seemingly made his feelings about Schröder quite clear after beating him in the post for an easy layup. The Washington big man appeared to shout “you’re trash” at his former point guard on his way back down the floor.

Both Schröder and Harrell have taken advantage of their new surroundings this season. Schröder is averaging more points, rebounds and assists than he did as a Laker, and Harrell is averaging a career-best 19.2 points per game on over 66 percent shooting for a surprisingly strong Washington team.

But money reigns supreme among NBA players, and both Schröder and Harrell missed out on windfalls in part because of their struggle to fit with one another. Even if they hadn’t, missing out on the championship both surely expected with the Lakers had to sting as well. It’s no surprise that there’s some lingering bad blood between the two. 



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