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Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's Fight Another Stain on Harrell's Rep

Two teammates throwing punches during halftime can't be good.

The Washington Wizards managed to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night by a score of 122-118. Kyle Kuzma scored 29 points and Spencer Dinwiddie added 22. The Thunder's young superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points in a losing effort.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, a young team vying for a playoff spot was not the lede of the story.

I Don't Need No Civil War

It was reported by Shams Charania that at halftime, Wizards guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Wizards forward Montrezl Harrell got into a physical altercation at halftime. Punches were thrown. 

It appears this play was a catalyst that could've started that fight.

Harrell was open down near the basket just before the half expired, and Caldwell-Pope could have passed the ball down court instead of taking a low-success rate, contested shot. There was a Thunder defender on that side of the court, but based on the angle it looks like Harrell was still pretty wide open. As the tweet says, the conversation between the two teammates started on their way to the locker room. 

It's worth noting that Caldwell-Pope and Harrell are not new to each other. They were teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers along with Kyle Kuzma, and they were acquired as part of the Wizards’ five-team deal in the offseason that sent Russell Westbrook to the Lakers.

Past Histories

Harrell is a good player. He has consistently rated high in PER (career PER of 22.7), player efficiency rating. He won NBA Sixth Man of the Year back in 2020 when he was a member of the Clippers. That's where his reputation as a team player gets murky. 

The Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals back during the 2020 bubble season. Clipper fans were happy to ride head coach Doc Rivers out on a rail, often blaming his lineups for the Clippers' collapse. Theories and fingers were pointed elsewhere, but after Harrell left the team, he made it clear he did not enjoy the chemistry and the way he was treated as a member of the Clippers. Then this came, according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

“Gone are some of those, including Harrell, who had a more difficult time transitioning to the hierarchical system. Since the playoff elimination, players and staffers who previously blanched at the inconveniences presented by a two-time Finals MVP requiring some extra space for his unique pregame regimen have been educated on a certain reality in the NBA: Exceptional stars are afforded exceptional privileges,” Arnovitz noted.

Yikes. Every person is deserving of respect, but Harrell balking at players like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard being higher up on the seniority ladder is shockingly absent-minded. Your team's elite players always get the best seat, the first physical therapy after the game, etc.

After Harrell's departure, Paul George even alluded (albeit somewhat passive-aggressively) to Harrell being a locker room issue. He said this the season after Harrell left the Clippers.

“The dudes that put it in the work, that built themselves up to be where they’re at, it’s a reason they get to that level, they get what they need and they know what makes them play at a high level. Whoever that offends… We ain't have that issue right now.”

One could chalk this up to a Clippers problem, but that wouldn't be accurate. After Harrell left the Lakers, he had some negative parting words about his time in purple and gold.

“I didn’t really get to be utilized how I wanted to be last year. I damn near felt like I had a season off.”

Suppositions

Maybe Harrell truly was in two places where he didn't fit in. It's a possibility. The more likely possibility is that when you leave two teams and have bad things to say about your experiences there, and then you have a fistfight with a teammate on your new team, perhaps the problem is you. Harrell should look to try and grow from chasing glory, and perhaps be a better team player.