After enjoying a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in their recently concluded playoff matchup, the Los Angeles Clippers dropped three straight games to lose the series, with the Nuggets now getting ready to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. During this series, two of the Clippers’ top players — Paul George and 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year awardee Montrezl Harrell — allegedly got into an argument following an on-court miscue.
On Wednesday afternoon, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported on the “collapse” of the Clippers, which was purportedly caused by poor chemistry and a lack of “rapport” — the latter of which was evident as early as Game 2, when George and Harrell reportedly had a “heated verbal exchange” after a miscommunication that resulted in Denver guard Jamal Murray stealing the ball.
Citing inside sources, Haynes noted that when the Clippers called a timeout following the play, Harrell confronted George and apparently blamed him for making a bad pass that led to the aforementioned turnover. The six-time All-Star allegedly passed the blame back to his teammate, telling him that Murray wouldn’t have intercepted the pass if he had “made the right play.”
“Harrell responded with something along the lines of, ‘You’re always right. Nobody can tell you nothing,’ and expletives were uttered from both players, sources said. George eventually toned down his rhetoric, but a heated Harrell wasn’t having it. Teammates began clapping on the sideline, in part to disguise what was going on and in an attempt to defuse the situation.”
Haynes added that things settled down when head coach Doc Rivers took his seat on the bench and went over the game plan.
As pointed out by Bleacher Report, the new rumors came eight months after it was first reported by members’ only publication The Athletic that the arrivals of George and fellow superstar Kawhi Leonard in the summer of 2019 resulted in friction in the locker room. At that time, Harrell said that the Clippers weren’t a “great team” and felt frustrated that they weren’t playing as well as expected.
In the aftermath of the Clippers’ heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Nuggets, which they reportedly blamed on fatigue, the team now has at least one more chance to win a championship with Leonard and George. Both stars are under contract for another year, with player options for the 2021-22 campaign. However, it’s still unclear whether Harrell, who will be entering unrestricted free agency in the offseason, has plans of re-signing with the organization.
According to Bleacher Report, ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently expressed doubts regarding Harrell’s value as a free agent, mentioning the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic on team salary caps and the reserve big man’s subpar defensive play as two reasons why teams might be hesitant to offer him a lucrative contract in the offseason.