Hornets pick up Harrell from Wizards

Published 11:58 pm Thursday, February 10, 2022

By Steve Reed

AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE —  The struggling Charlotte Hornets added some needed help to their frontcourt.

The Hornets, who’ve lost six straight games, acquired power forward/center Montrezl Harrell from the Washington Wizards. Charlotte sent veteran backup point guard Ish Smith, second-year forward Vernon Carey Jr. and 2023 second-round draft pick, which is top-45 protected, to the Wizards in return.

The deal was announced Thursday night.

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak has been looking to add a center who can score and defend for quite some time. Harrell is 6-foot-7, but has a 7-foot-4 wingspan and he’s expected to play both power forward and center.

Center Mason Plumlee was acquired this offseason to help bridge the gap after big men Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo were not retained as unrestricted free agents.

The 28-year-old Harrell is a Tarboro, North Carolina, native and is averaging 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 46 games this season for the Wizards while shooting 64.5% from the field — fourth-best in the NBA. A former NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Harrell is averaging 13.7 points per game in 43 appearances off the bench, the sixth-highest scoring average among reserves.

During his seven years in the NBA, Harrell has averaged 13 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Harrell’s best season came in 2019 with the Los Angeles Clippers when he averaged a career-best 18.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

Smith has been Charlotte’s third-string point guard since joining the team this past offseason, playing behind LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. He has played in 37 games and averaged 4.5 points and 2.7 assists per game. He returns to the Wizards, where he spent the previous two seasons.

“Ish returns to us as a respected veteran leader who can guide our young players as we continue to compete over the stretch run of the season,” said Wizards president and general manager Tommy Sheppard in a release. “Vernon is a talented young player who can build on his brief but promising NBA experience while continuing to develop within our system.”

Carey, a former second-round pick, has played in 23 games during his career and is averaging 2.3 points per game.