Philadelphia 76ers veteran backup big man Montrezl Harrell suffered an ACL and a meniscus tear during a workout this week, rendering him likely to miss the entire 2023-24 season. Shams Charania was the first to report the news.
While Harrell was not likely to see significant playing time this season, the injury – which has a recovery time of at least eight months – is still a huge bummer for himself and for the team. For the first half of this past season, Harrell was the team’s primary backup center. But when that role largely shifted to Paul Reed, Harrell took the demotion in stride and praised Reed’s growth, energy, and the different strengths he brings defensively. Current situation aside, there’s a reason Harrell was a big factor in James Harden wanting to play in Philadelphia. He’s a team-first guy with the experience to mentor and support up-and-coming players.
That said, with Harrell returning on a one-year veteran minimum deal, the injury puts his future with the team in serious jeopardy. Even if Harrell only needs the minimum recovery time, he still wouldn’t be returning until after the playoffs start – and considering his playoff time was minimal to begin with this past year, it’s unlikely he’d be worked into the rotation. While the Sixers could apply for a Disabled Player Exception, giving them some budgetary flexibility to sign a replacement player, doing so would not open up an additional roster spot.
Since the team already has Joel Embiid, Paul Reed, Mo Bamba, and overseas draft pick Filip Petrusev, it’s unlikely they’d use another precious remaining roster slot for yet another big man.
Beyond this season though, Harrell’s own future looks more uncertain. Teams are already hesitant to sign free agents coming off of major injuries, and unfortunately, Montrezl Harrell’s on-court impact appears to have declined since winning the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year. As he’ll turn 30 during the season, teams may become even more hesitant about his remaining potential. While one hopes he has more NBA minutes in his future, it’s far from a guarantee.
Sigh. Here’s hoping things start looking up for Philadelphia basketball.