Feb 3, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Montrezl Harrell (5) reacts after being called for a foul during the first half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Montrezl Harrell’s ability to run the floor at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds has always been impressive. In 2019-20 with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Louisville product averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds off the bench to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award on a 49-23 squad that finished second in the Western Conference.

Since then, Harrell, a 2015 second-round pick by the Houston Rockets, has bounced around the league. From 2020-21 to 2021-22, he played for three teams — Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets — and last September, he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers to reunite with former Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

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The 29-year-old Harrell played in 49 of the Sixers’ first 53 games, averaging 5.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 12.7 minutes as a backup to All-Star center Joel Embiid. Since the Feb. 9 trade deadline, however, Harrell has played in only three games, including Wednesday’s 116-91 road rout of the Chicago Bulls.

Harrell is one of the NBA’s most opinionated players, so when he speaks, you should listen. Bally Sports recently heard what the veteran had to say about a number of topics — from his decision to sign with the 76ers to the changes he's seeing across the league.

How have you adapted to Philadelphia?

It’s just like any place that you would go to with a new system. It’s a learning process, but you come in and do your job and continue to get better with all the tools that you have around you. We have a great team, and we have a lot of different guys that can be inserted in the lineup at any given time. So it’s really about staying ready and staying prepared, really.

Did your previous relationship with Doc Rivers during your Clippers days play into your decision to sign with the 76ers?

I mean, it definitely played a factor towards when it came down to it, with a familiar system and being with someone that you have some familiarity with … but this IS NOTHING ON HOW IT WAS WITH THE CLIPPERS! This is a whole different dynamic. We got different players, and guys have different roles.

To a certain extent, it had a little bit of a factor, but not really because, like I said, you’re coming to a team or organization that already has an identity and already has its key players. So now it’s all about just coming in and seeing if you can do whatever it takes to complement the guys that are already here.

Devlin Carter’s SIA brand has gained steam in the basketball world with Kyrie Irving’s name floating. You’ve also worn the shoes. How do they work for you?

Well, for me honestly, I produced the whole shoe. So I know the soles, I know the overlay and everything that’s built into the shoe. It’s not the same as somebody just putting something together, sending it to you and then you just wear it and see what it’s like. Literally — like every aspect of my shoe and what it looks like — I had every input on it, and it was great to be able to be a part of something and someone who is independent and that is Black-owned and literally builds his stuff from the ground up.

Nobody’s backing him, and it’s just me and him off a collective partnership. And really that’s what it’s about. So I love it honestly.

As for Kyrie’s shoe, I don’t know what it’ll be because it depends on his designs and what he talks with SIA, but really, it will be different from my shoe because, like I said, my sole is my soul. (My) whole name is imprinted in it. My grandmother’s birthday, when she was born until she passed, is up there. So I got a lot of different things that are tied into the sole and the shoe itself.

I think that it would be a good idea for him. I mean, it was a tough situation that he went into and the things that happened to him, but you know, if he’s looking for somebody to actually produce his shoe and do it in a great quality, he is definitely the person that’s going to do it.

Does playing alongside James Harden and Tyrese Maxey make things easier for you when you’re on the floor together?

I mean, I’m not really a focal point on how I get myself going. It’s really about getting those guys going because, like I said before, there’s a lot of lineups that you can insert on the floor and there’s a lot of people that draw a lot of different attention. I could be out there with Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Tobias Harris and Georges Niang. I mean, that’s scoring at every position!

So really it’s about going out there and doing the best I can to get those guys open, because nine times out of 10 I’m going to get the rebound off of it.

What are some of the biggest surprises you see across the league?

Everybody’s identity is different, you know? A lot of people, when they first came in the league, teams had an identity — like, look at the San Antonio Spurs, you know? Look how much they’ve transitioned from the guys that they used to have that was running in that system with Coach (Gregg Popovich). And I’m not saying that it’s a good or bad thing, but at the same time, you see the transition on how it went from the Tony Parkers and Tim Duncans, the Manu Ginobilis and Kawhis and them, into the offense that you have to input now.

So, I mean, the league overall is transitioning in a lot of different ways, and I think that’s one of the biggest things that you really have to pay attention to in this league. I mean, you see it from your 5 man all the way up to the 1. We got 6-foot-10 guys playing the 1 spot and 7-foot guys shooting 3s. So the league itself is changing overall. So that’s one of the biggest things that are really just the eye-openers as you continue to see every year.

What do you make of Kyle Kuzma’s play in Washington this season?

I wish the best of luck to him. He’s a guy that works on his game, and he’s going to go out there and make his identity known no matter what. So the best of luck to him.

(The Wizards) are in this Eastern Conference with us, but you know, I’m more focused on my team and I’m not paying attention to them. … I’m definitely one of those players that, when I play somewhere, I definitely go out there and lay it all out there for that team while I was there. But once I walk out of those doors and you don’t think I can come back and provide you with the same thing when I was there? It’s nothing to talk about. I don’t care about what you got going on or what you’re doing — and that goes to the organization, really.

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