Montrezl Harrell will return to Clippers ‘when he’s ready,’ Doc Rivers says

Montrezl Harrell is hurting. The Clippers forward has shared some of those feelings publicly the past the few days on Instagram, including Saturday, when he posted a tribute to his grandmother, whom he’d left the team and the bubble to be with before she died.

“I LOVE U GRANDMA,” wrote Harrell, the 27-year-old from North Carolina, in an Instagram story that continued, in part, “I don’t know when I will Stop crying prolly never every day I wake up I’m talk to you every day till I see you again.

“I don’t know how to feel right now I feel lost empty you are my queen, my best friend, my light in all darkness. I never had you leaving my side.”

Harrell left the bubble July 17. He’s one of three members of the Clippers who lost a loved one since the team arrived on the closed NBA campus at Walt Disney World Resort in early July; Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley also left following the deaths of people dear to them. And JaMychal Green’s arrival was delayed after his 100-year-old grandmother died.

“Some of the things are just human issues that it’s very difficult other than support,” Rivers said before Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at HP Field House. “Give your guys support that are going through tough things.

“The league has always run the league and now they’re trying to run teams as well, because of the way they’re doing the bubble. And the bubble has been fantastic, but they’re also learning that there’s a lot of life that’s involved with each individual team. I think the media is learning that, too, because we’re all in the same place, so it’s accented when a guy leaves the bubble or when he has personal problems a lot more. That happens.

“We were just unfortunate that it happened to three guys at the same time. There’s nothing you can do about that. You just roll with it and when they come back, they come back and you hope you’re ready.”

Williams is nearing the end of his extended, 10-day quarantine he received because he stopped at a Atlanta gentlemen’s club, reportedly for food, while he was outside of the bubble to attend a funeral. Beverley finished a shorter quarantine and rejoined the team Thursday, immediately returning to action with 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench in the Clippers’ 103-101 bubble-opening loss to the Lakers.

There is no timetable for Harrell’s return, Rivers said Saturday.

“I’ve talked to him,” said the Clippers’ 21st-year coach, who says he’s been fielding queries about the star reserve, who is having a career season, with bests in points (18.6 points) and rebounds (7.1). “I get asked from inside, like, ‘When is Trezz coming back?’ And my answer’s been the same: When he’s ready. When he’s ready he’ll come back. You can’t play if you’re not right mentally and because of the emotional part of it.

“His grandmother is very tight with him, so all I told him is I love him and take your time. We’ll be ready with open arms when you come.”

And whenever Harrell does return to his team’s embrace, Rivers said it’s important that he – and all the players competing in the enclosed environment, as well as all other associated personnel – be aware of the psychological support that’s available.

“I think it’s the untapped resource in our league,” Rivers said. “Not only just players but coaches, too. I don’t know why it’s always been taboo, but it has been and we have to do a better job of making it like a sprained ankle where you get treatment just like you do if you injured your knee or something like that.

“I mean, we had three major things happening to our guys and my job then is just forget the coaching part, just to support. We have several therapists on staff, the league has a therapist here full-time and we should all seek it out.”

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