The Phoenix Suns have had a wonderful offseason, and now stare into what could be a franchise-defining 2023-24 season. They went 4-1 through preseason play, and have finally trimmed their roster down to the required 15 players.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t look for players who will become available in the next few months, so as to bolster a roster with individuals who they never realized they could get in the first place.
The Philadelphia 76ers have just waived one such player, and he is a center that the Suns should be keeping tabs on.
The player in question would be Montrezl Harrell, the 29-year-old who had his best days with the L.A. Clippers and was the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year. Right away there are several roadblocks to acquiring his services, starting with the fact the Suns would have to waive a player.
Not to pick on Bol Bol here – who has already shown his limitations during preseason – but he would seem the ideal big to cut in order to make room for Harrell. A center who can actually defend at a high level, and more importantly who wants to.
An even bigger issue is the fact Harrell is currently recovering from a torn ACL/meniscus, but he is targeting a return sometime this regular season. If he is able to show even some of the ability and tenacity that he has in the past, then plenty of would be contenders and legitimate elite teams would surely call.
The other problem is the limitations Harrell has, which is why he can only ever be a backup and one used in specific situations at that. He’s been played off the floor in playoff series with the Clippers in the past, and despite loving the physical side of the game, is undersized for the position as well.
More of a Draymond Green type in terms of build, although you can also rightly point out that Green can play as a small ball five and the Golden State Warriors have had great success with that. Which is exactly why the Suns should be calling Harrell, and soon.
He is more of a known quantity than Bol or Chimezie Metu, and has played for a contender before. Not only that, but he could be used with the superstar trio the Suns have put together, and create new ways for head coach Frank Vogel to game plan and hurt opponents.
If any coach is going to use Harrell in the right way and minimize his flaws that have caused him to be moved to the bench in the past, it is coach Vogel. There is also no doubt Harrell would become one of the Suns’ best big defenders – better even than current starter Jusuf Nurkic when healthy.
Health is the key word used to describe Nurkic, and although he managed to surpass expectations and appear in four preseason games, his durability is an issue. So too is Harrell’s at this point in his career, but the Suns could so worse than have one hobbled big man back up another. Fused together they make an above average center.
The Suns may have to move quickly to see if Harrell is interested in joining the team once he’s healthy, and it is an option they should strongly explore. A depth chart of Nurkic, Bol and Drew Eubanks isn’t going to strike fear into the true contenders out there. Imagine the field day Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets would have with that trio.
This is a free chance that the organization wouldn’t have seen coming to add a proven player who can provide actual quality in spot minutes. We know the Suns are going to struggle defensively, and it is why they should kick the tyres on Harrell to see if he has anything left in the tank.
The franchise is already relying too much on Nurkic anyway, so adding another player on the way back from major injury for little money would just be attempting to spread the risk that bit more. In a season yet to even start, the 76ers may just have given the Suns the ideal gift on the eve of the regular season. They would be mad to ignore it.