Marcus Morris

Malik Monk On Knicks’ Radar

Some members of the Knicks‘ organization view Hornets guard Malik Monk as a trade target worth pursuing, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. However, Begley cautions that it’s not clear whether New York and Charlotte have actually had any conversations about Monk.

Monk, who will turn 22 next month, hasn’t developed like the Hornets hoped when they drafted him 11th overall in 2017. This season, he’s averaging 8.4 PPG with a career-high .429 FG%, but his 3PT% has slipped to a dismal .252. A change of scenery could benefit the former Kentucky sharpshooter.

As Begley writes, the Knicks are believed to be interested in acquiring a starter-level player who could help the team in both the short- and long-term. However, the front office appears reluctant to part with any of its top young prospects or future first-round picks, so acquiring a starter-level player will be a challenge.

Landing a reclamation project like Monk might be a more realistic scenario, though the Knicks haven’t had much success with another change-of-scenery prospect from the 2017 lottery, Dennis Smith Jr.

Whether or not they pursue Monk, the Knicks seem likely to be active at the trade deadline, according to Begley, who notes that contenders around the NBA continue to monitor New York’s veterans, including Marcus Morris.

Knicks Notes: Barrett, Ivey, LaMelo, Morris

Steve Nash didn’t get to watch his godson, RJ Barrett, play last night because of an injury, but he has faith that Barrett will develop into a franchise cornerstone for the Knicks, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

“(Barrett’s) shown very much of what I thought he’d show. He’s an incredibly talented, well-rounded basketball player. He does a bit of everything. I think he will evolve into a great playmaker because that’s a natural ability for him that he doesn’t necessarily get to shine in at this stage of his career and on this stage of this team,” Nash said. “That’s exciting for Knicks fans that he still produces, he’s versatile, he can score. He’s growing defensively. And for me, he’s a natural playmaker and that hasn’t been a part of his upside yet that’s highlighted. So for the franchise, that’s exciting.”

Barrett was a primary ballhandler in college, but the Knicks quickly gave up on their experiment of using him at point guard, Bondy notes. Still, his usage rate is high at 23.2% and he is often utilized as a secondary initiator of the offense.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • The Sixers expressed interest in hiring New York assistant Royal Ivey after the end of last season, but the Knicks blocked the move because they thought Ivey might help attract Kevin Durant in free agency, Bondy adds in a separate story. Ivey is a close friend with Durant and was a former teammate in Oklahoma City. A source tells Bondy that the Knicks refused to allow the Sixers to interview Ivey, but did give him a pay raise.
  • The Knicks never made it to Australia to see LaMelo Ball in person before he was shut down for the season with a foot injury, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The front office was planning a trip this month, but Berman points out that it might not matter because president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry may not be with the team by draft time.
  • The Knicks will be wasting an opportunity if they don’t trade Marcus Morris by the deadline, contends Tommy Beer of Forbes. Morris is enjoying his best statistical season, averaging 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 3-pointers per game, but may not be a long-term fit at age 30. Not only would the Knicks be better off with whatever assets they can obtain in return, Beer adds, trading Morris takes away any chance they will overpay to re-sign him this summer.

Eastern Notes: Kornet, Morris, Pasecniks, Wall

The Bulls are trying to get by in the middle with rookie Daniel Gafford and Luke Kornet until Wendell Carter Jr. returns, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times relays. Carter is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with an ankle injury.

The Bulls used their room exception to sign Kornet to a two-year, $4.5MM contract during the offseason but he’s only appeared in 20 games this season, averaging 3.2 PPG in 9.7 MPG. He had 15 points against Detroit on Saturday but went scoreless against Boston on Monday.

‘‘[Kornet] was just waiting for his time to come back and show what he can do, and that’s what he did [Saturday],’’ Gafford said of his Bulls teammate.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks are leaning toward retaining forward Marcus Morris, who will be a free agent again after the season, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Morris, who will miss his fifth straight game Tuesday against the Bucks with a neck injury, may not be dealt unless they get back a star-quality player in a large package, Berman continues. Several playoff teams are interested in Morris, Berman adds, but the Knicks would prefer to preserve their 2020 or 2021 cap space in any deal.
  • The Wizards used part of their mid-level exception to convert center Anzejs Pasecniks‘ contract from a two-way deal to a standard one, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Pasecniks was signed to a multi-year pact on Sunday. The Wizards will take a $482K cap hit this year. Pasecniks has a $250K guarantee on his $1.52MM salary for the 2020/21 season. The contract for next season becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster through July 8, Katz continues. His $1.78MM salary for 2021/22 is non-guaranteed, Katz adds.
  • Wizards GM Tommy Shephard reiterated that point guard John Wall will not return this season unless he’s completely healthy, Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports Washington writes. Wall has been participated in 3-on-3 drills with members of the player development staff. “We’re not going to skip steps, we’re not going to get excited about 3-on-3,” Sheppard said. “Down the road, I think we’ll start to add more players to the court and make it feel more like home, but we’re not in a rush to see John come back unless he’s 100 percent healthy.”

Clippers Well-Positioned To Pursue Roster Upgrade

The Clippers‘ collection of trade assets puts them in a better position than many rival contenders to upgrade their roster at the deadline, according to one rival NBA executive who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com.

“They’re the team that’s doing more talking (than the Lakers),” the executive said of the Clippers, per Deveney. “They’re in better position. They’ve got everything you want if you’re looking to get assets back for players. They have a draft pick, they have expiring contracts they can give up, they have really good, interesting young players. They’re in a great position to help themselves.”

As Deveney observes, the Clippers have traded away a handful of future picks but aren’t prohibited from trading their 2020 first-rounder, since they still control both it and their 2021 pick. And unlike a handful of other contenders, they have a movable contract in the mid-level range — Maurice Harkless is making $11MM in the last year of his contract, and while he has been a solid defender for Los Angeles, his offensive game is limited.

The Clippers are actively seeking help at power forward, according to Deveney, who notes that the team has at least expressed interest in Thaddeus Young (Bulls) and Marcus Morris (Knicks). Sources tell Deveney that the Clips believe they have the necessary assets to make a deal for Morris if they so choose, but will continue to scour the trade market.

While Harkless and a first-round pick would be a strong enough package for an upgrade, the Clippers also have young players who may intrigue teams. Even if the club isn’t willing to move Montrezl Harrell – who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end – or Landry Shamet, players like Jerome Robinson and rookies Terance Mann and Mfiondu Kabengele could appeal to trade partners.

“Both of those guys are NBA players,” that same exec told Deveney, referring to Mann and Kabengele. “We had a lot of discussion about both of them at the draft, they’re strong, NBA bodies, they play both ways. How good? That would be the question, but they’re both NBA players.”

The Clippers have four more weeks to make a deal before the February 6 trade deadline.

Marcus Morris Confirms Turning Down Three-Year Offer From Clippers

Marcus Morris verbally accepted a two-year, $20MM deal with the Spurs before opting to sign with the Knicks instead, but that deal with San Antonio isn’t the only contract he turned down this past summer. The forward confirmed that he turned down a three-year, $41MM deal from the Clippers in July, as Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic relays.

“It had nothing to do with me playing here (in L.A.),” Morris explained. “Personally, as a player, I felt as though I was worth more. I felt as though my time in the NBA, with the production I had throughout the years, I felt I was worth more than what they offered. That was just my opinion. As a player that’s what I was standing on.”

Morris inked a one-year, $15MM deal with New York and there’s chatter that the franchise would like to keep him long-term. Rival scouts and executives believe the Knicks could get a late first-round pick for Morris should they decide to deal him. Vorkunov speculates that the Clippers could be a team to watch out for if the franchise indicates it wants to move on.

Morris added he turned down Los Angeles’ offer, which was first reported last July, because he wanted to “bet” on himself.

“I came with the Knicks, I’d seen a great opportunity, I’d seen a great group of guys, and I wanted to bet on myself on an opportunity where I can showcase what I really can do and I thought that New York would be the perfect place for me to come,” Morris said.

While none of the subsequent offers Morris received came close to matching the overall value of the Clippers’ deal, he did at least secure a higher 2019/20 salary on his deal with the Knicks. He and agent Rich Paul parted ways after Morris’ eventful free agent period.

Knicks May Not Be Sellers At Trade Deadline

Given the state of the Knicks, one would assume the team will look to trade away its veterans before the trade deadline and accumulate assets for the future. However, Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears that rival clubs are getting the impression that New York isn’t solely focused on being sellers and accumulating draft picks and young players.

Opposing front offices believe that the Knicks have veterans that could help round out a playoff team, both this season and in future years. Teams have previously expressed interest in Dennis Smith Jr., Marcus Morris, and Bobby Portis and Begley notes that the team has likely had conversations about other players as well.

What happens with Morris will be particularly interesting. The forward signed a one-year, $15MM contract with New York this offseason after spurning San Antonio, and the franchise believes he could have long-term value to the club. The Knicks have been impressed by his play and his leadership so far this season.

The organization is 10-27 on the season and is on its second coach of the campaign.

Knicks Notes: Morris, Portis, Knox

The Knicks would rather ship out forward Bobby Portis than Marcus Morris and his expiring contract, according to Stefan Bondy of  the New York Daily News. Morris has a one-year, $15MM contract while Portis was signed for two years and $30.75MM, but the Knicks hold an option on the second year. Morris had a 38-point outburst against the Clippers on Sunday and proclaims he’s interested in re-signing. Portis is averaging 10.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG.

“I love our team. I love our future. I just want to be a part of helping these young guys grow into the great players they’re going to be,” Morris said. “That was the reason why I made the decision to come here, going back on the decisions I made, along with a lot of other things. I’m here and I enjoy this organization, I enjoy the players they got here and I want to be here long-term.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks could sell high on Morris with the way he’s playing, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. There’s motivation to trade him for a first-round pick with Morris playing as well as he ever has. “Every team I’ve been on, I’ve played my role,” Morris said. “I’m happy to be able to showcase my talent and take it to another level.” The Clippers are said to be interested and the Sixers are monitoring his situation, Berman adds.
  • New York should be able to get a late first-round pick in return for the veteran forward, Colin Martin and Ian Begley of SNY TV relay, but some members of the Knicks organization believe Morris has long-term value with the club. They have been impressed by his play and leadership and see him as a part of their rebuild, the SNY duo adds.
  • It would be painful to deal Morris but the Knicks need to continue stockpiling assets, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post opines.
  • Kevin Knox‘s playing time has been reduced in his second season and his confidence has taken a hit, Berman writes in a separate story. The Knicks didn’t draft Knox, a lottery pick, to be a role player but this season he’s become more of an afterthought, Berman adds. Knox is averaging 7.5 PPG in 19.4 MPG after averaging 12.8 PPG in 28.8 MPG last season.

Marcus Morris Draws Interest From Clippers, Sixers

The Clippers and Sixers both have interest in acquiring Knicks forward Marcus Morris, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Morris’ playoff experience and expiring $15MM contract make him an attractive addition for any playoff contender. He is among several veterans who signed short-term deals with New York over the summer that carry little to no guaranteed money beyond this season.

With the Knicks in Los Angeles for a game today, Morris was asked about the possibility of joining the Clippers.

“Rumors are rumors,” he said. “Look, I told you before I’m in New York and love being here. I’m excited to help to turn this around. I’m not paying that any mind. I’m focused on what we got going on in this locker room.’’

Morris would likely be more interested in winding up in his hometown of Philadelphia. He said in July that playing close to home was among his reasons for backing out of a deal with the Spurs to join the Knicks.

Berman notes that the Sixers don’t have a first-rounder to offer in the 2020 draft, but they have four second-round picks. He adds that a third team would probably be needed to facilitate a deal, such as the Hawks, who are under the salary cap.

A source tells Berman that the Knicks may also be able to land second-round selections in exchange for Allonzo Trier and Wayne Ellington, who have both fallen out of the rotation.

Charania’s Latest: Hawks, Dedmon, Kuzma, Warriors

The 7-27 Hawks have been the NBA’s worst team on the court so far this season, and it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the franchise in the locker room either, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. Sources tell Charania that there has been a “disconnect at times” between the coaching staff and the club’s most important players.

“No energy, no one playing hard,” one source with knowledge of the Hawks’ situation told The Athletic after a recent loss. Another added: “This s–t is depressing.”

While it has been a discouraging year in Atlanta, the front office remains active and has been targeting a center and a backup point guard on the trade market, per Charania. Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, who recently reported that the Hawks had internally discussed the possibility of pursuing Steven Adams, hears that the team has also considered a reunion with Dewayne Dedmon. Dedmon, who spent the last two seasons in Atlanta, signed with the Kings in the offseason but wants to be traded.

Charania passed along a few more tidbits in his latest Inside Pass column for The Athletic. Here are the highlights:

  • Several teams are doing due diligence on Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma in case he’s placed on the trade block, says Charania. However, league sources tell The Athletic that the Lakers still view Kuzma as a core long-term piece. Additionally, L.A. is more focused on making moves around the edges than making a big splash at the deadline.
  • While the Warriors have made players like Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III available, rival teams that have talked to the Dubs say the club isn’t looking to move D’Angelo Russell, according to Charania. The Warriors continue to insist they want to see Russell play with a fully healthy roster, and won’t deal him unless they get an offer that blows them away.
  • Knicks forward Marcus Morris and Wizards sharpshooter Davis Bertans have drawn interest from teams around the NBA, but it’s not clear if either player will be dealt. Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard has stated his team wants to retain Bertans, and Charania writes that New York prefers to keep Morris. Still, I doubt either player would be untouchable if the right offer surfaces.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Cavaliers and Jazz broke the NBA’s trade drought today, completing the league’s first trade since July 16. While I wouldn’t necessarily expect the floodgates to open on the trade market as a result of that deal, it certainly won’t be the last one completed this winter.

As we wait for an Atlantic team to make its first in-season trade of the 2019/20 season, let’s identify three more trade candidates from around the division…

Marcus Morris, F
New York Knicks
$15MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Virtually every veteran on the Knicks’ roster is a trade candidate this season, as we noted in our last look at the Atlantic. However, Morris projects to be the most valuable of a group that also features Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, and others.

Morris is the only player of that bunch who has no guaranteed money on his contract beyond this season, and he’s also been the most productive one so far, with a team-best 18.4 PPG to go along with an impressive .466 3PT%. Multiple reports have suggested that the Knicks could realistically expect to land a first-round pick in return for Morris.

The veteran forward has said he doesn’t want to be traded, since he likes playing in New York and would prefer to try to help the Knicks reverse their first-half skid. But he has no ability to veto a trade or steer himself to a specific destination, so it will likely come down to whether the Knicks get an offer they like.

Zhaire Smith, SG
Philadelphia 76ers
$3.1MM cap hit; $3.2MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $4.9MM team option for 2021/22

John Hollinger of The Athletic identified Smith this week as a recent first-round pick he’s worried about, since the 20-year-old “has struggled to make an impact even in G League games due to his limited skill level.” That’s not good news for a Sixers team that could badly use a wing like Smith off the bench.

Given how young he is, Smith could appeal to a rebuilding club that likes his athleticism and thinks it could get more out of him. Of course, the 76ers would be selling low, which the front office may be reluctant to do again after seeing Markelle Fultz contribute in Orlando this season.

Still, the Sixers don’t have a ton of expendable pieces earning more than the minimum, so even if they’re not ready to give up on Smith, he might make sense as a salary-matching piece in a trade package to acquire a more reliable contributor. Attaching Smith to Jonah Bolden, for instance, would allow Philadelphia to bring back a player earning up to about $8.4MM.

Stanley Johnson, F
Toronto Raptors
$3.6MM cap hit; $3.8MM player option for 2020/21

Like Smith, Johnson looks like he could serve a potential trade chip for a contending team that lacks expendable mid-level players. Of the four outside free agents the Raptors brought in this past summer, Johnson is being paid the most and has played the least, due to both injuries and ineffectiveness.

There’s still time for the former lottery pick to emerge as a regular contributor in Nick Nurse‘s rotation — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson worked his way out of the doghouse earlier in the season and is now seeing big minutes off the bench for the club. It’s possible Johnson will follow suit.

Even if Johnson remains glued to the bench, it remains unclear what sort of approach the Raptors will take at the trade deadline But if the club is looking for a modestly-priced bench upgrade, Johnson would be the most logical outgoing piece and could be the on the move.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.