Animosity has developed between the Spurs and Knicks organizations over the Marcus Morris free agency odyssey and alleged tampering involving Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Isola of The Athletic and Ian Begley of SNY TV report.
Morris backed out of a verbal agreement to sign a two-year, $19MM contract with San Antonio and inked a one-year, $15MM deal with the Knicks. While he’ll earn more in 2019/20 as a Knick, the actual value of next year’s salary isn’t significantly larger, as Isola points out, due to New York’s state taxes. Morris’ motivation was to max out his earnings in ’19/20 before entering a weaker free agent market again next summer.
The Spurs are upset at a number of levels, according to Isola. Not only are they upset about the Knicks swooping in, they had opened up the mid-level exception for him by dealing forward Davis Bertans to the Wizards and asking DeMarre Carroll to rework his free-agent contract. Carroll was eventually acquired from the Nets in a sign-and-trade.
New York saw the signing of Morris as a “small victory,” according to Isola, after missing out on top-level free agents. The Knicks gained more cap room by re-working Reggie Bullock‘s free agent deal. Bullock underwent a cervical disc procedure this week.
New York’s front office also feels that the Spurs had it coming because they alleged crossed lines of accepted behavior prior to the 2017 draft when it was shopping Porzingis, Begley writes. The exact nature of San Antonio’s behavior is unclear, Begley adds, though Isola asserts there may have been illegal contact between the Spurs and Porzingis during that time. The talented big man wound up with the Mavericks in a deadline deal last February.