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August 02, 2023

Sixers' Montrezl Harrell suffers torn ACL during offseason workouts

The Sixers lose their backup big for the season.

Sixers backup big man Montrezl Harrell tore his ACL and medial meniscus, the Sixers told reporters on Wednesday, effectively ending Harrell's 2023-24 season before it began.

Harrell had been dealing with swelling in his knee following offseason workouts, and further evaluation turned up the ligament damage in the veteran's right knee. While returning from an ACL tear is not the death sentence it once was, a typical recovery timeline is in the ballpark of eight to nine months, which would place a Harrell return in the middle of the playoffs, not exactly an ideal time to take baby steps after a major injury.

Before we discuss the impact on the Sixers, it's obviously a bummer for Harrell, who struggled in the backup role for most of last season but still showed support for his teammates from the sidelines once Paul Reed took his rotation spot. It would have been an uphill battle to playtime for him this season, but Harrell now faces a much tougher battle, forced to spend his year recovering and rehabbing in the hopes that he can get back out on an NBA floor.

(There is a non-zero chance Harrell has played his last NBA minute, as a minimum-contract veteran entering his 30s who will be coming off of a major injury the next time he goes to suit up. It would be a reminder of how quickly things can turn in the league, though one would hope he gets his chance to stick around on his own terms when he's on the other side of this.)

The return of Harrell to the roster was met with surprise by many when the Sixers agreed to a one-year deal with Harrell in early July. Philadelphia's roster moves since then have only made that decision more confusing — Philadelphia is currently set to carry Harrell, Joel Embiid, Paul Reed, Mo Bamba, and Filip Petrusev on their roster, all of whom are nominal big men. While Petrusev and Bamba have floor-spacing potential (and Petrusev is only on a partial guarantee), the roster is loaded with centers with the plan fairly uncertain elsewhere. And now one of those guys is all but ruled out for the season, unable to help out even if the Sixers were to need him at some point.

There hasn't been a ton of fun and happy news for the Sixers this offseason, so this Wednesday afternoon news drop fits the vibe of the summer. Here's hoping you're getting your sunshine and rainbows from time on the beach, rather than following the local basketball team.

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