Marcus Morris

Southwest Notes: Diallo, Morris, Iguodala, Favors

Cheick Diallo was squeezed out of New Orleans due to a numbers crunch, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM tweets. The Pelicans didn’t want to lose the young power forward but they essentially had to choose between him and Jahlil Okafor, according to Gambadoro. New Orleans got three players back in the Anthony Davis deal, added three first-rounders including top pick Zion Williamson, and signed free agent guard J.J. Redick. New Orleans did not make a qualifying offer to Diallo, which made him an unrestricted free agent. He signed a two-year contract with the Suns.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Marcus Morris said he meant no disrespect when backed out of a verbal two-year agreement with the Spurs to sign a one-year contract with the Knicks, as he told Shams Charania of The Athletic“The first thing that I did when I knew I would be going another direction, I called and made sure they knew. There was no shade. There’s no disrespect,” Morris said. “I had great conversations afterward, and as long as I feel that I’m clear with them and gave them my truth, I feel good about moving forward. … I thought at the time that the Spurs deal was all that I had. The process wasn’t what I expected and it didn’t go the right way.” The way Morris’ free agent journey played out contributed to bad blood between the two organizations.
  • Andre Iguodala remains in limbo after getting traded to the Grizzlies, Charania reports in a video post. The Rockets, Clippers, Mavericks and Nuggets have all shown interest in the veteran forward. Houston and the Clippers are the top contenders but the Rockets have major luxury tax concerns while the only thing that would make sense for the Clippers salary-wise would be to move Maurice Harkless, whom they acquired from the Trail Blazers. However, the Clippers don’t want to ship out Harkless, Charania adds.
  • The Pelicans believe they can turn big man Derrick Favors into a bigger offensive threat than he was with the Jazz, William Guillory of The Athletic writes. Favors was acquired for two second-rounders in a salary dump by Utah. The opportunity to play alongside Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson and Redick will facilitate the process. Favors will be utilized more often as a passer and be encouraged to develop his 3-point game, Guillory adds.

Spurs, Knicks At Odds Over Morris, Porzingis

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.

Knicks Notes: Morris, Bullock, Vonleh

After officially announcing their deals with Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock today, the Knicks appear to be just about done with free agency. Damyean Dotson‘s salary for 2019/20 became fully guaranteed because he remained on the roster through Monday, so New York is now carrying 15 players on guaranteed deals. The team has also exhausted its cap room and appears to have used a portion of the room exception to sign Bullock.

Here are a few Knicks-related notes on Morris, Bullock, and more:

  • Morris’ agent Rich Paul wasn’t directly involved in his client breaking his verbal agreement with the Spurs, and preferred that Morris stick to that agreement, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Morris and the Knicks worked together to strike a deal. As for Morris and Paul, they’re reportedly parting ways after the forward’s tumultuous free agency.
  • A source tells Berman that Bullock is out “indefinitely” and isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports that Bullock will likely miss at least a month of the season. The details on the veteran guard’s health issue remain a mystery, but that issue helped scuttle the initial two-year deal between the two sides — that $21MM agreement would have been worth more than double the value of their new contract.
  • The Knicks’ goal is to win – not tank – in 2019/20, according to Berman, who speculates that Morris and Julius Randle may end up being the team’s starting forward tandem, with 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox moving to the bench.
  • After leaving the Knicks for the Timberwolves in free agency, Noah Vonleh told Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic that he had a “great” time in New York last season. “It was a great opportunity,” Vonleh said. “They gave me some playing time, let me be the 4-man, just grow as a player and change the narrative that was on me that was in the league and gave myself another a chance to give myself a new life in the league.”

Knicks Sign Marcus Morris

JULY 16: Morris has officially signed with the Knicks, per NBA.com’s transactions log.

JULY 11: The Knicks have agreed to a one-year, $15MM deal with Marcus Morris, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Morris had previously come to an agreement with the Spurs but chose not to honor the verbal agreement.

San Antonio was planning on using its mid-level exception to sign Morris and turned its DeMarre Carroll acquisition into a sign-and-trade in order to accommodate Morris on a two-year deal worth approximately $19MM. The Spurs traded away Davis Bertans as part of the Carroll sign-and-trade.

“I had to make this decision based on the best situation for me and my family,” Morris said (via Charania). “This is no knock on the Spurs. I have respect for them.”

New York had the flexibility to add Morris after renegotiating its deal with Reggie Bullock. Bullock agreed to terms with the Knicks on a two-year, $21MM pact, but the franchise nixed that deal over health concerns. Ian Begley of SNY.tv tweets that New York plans to amend the agreement with Bullock.

Morris, who earned the No. 22 spot on our list of this offseason’s top 50 free agents, was the most notable name still on the board. The 29-year-old had a solid year in Boston as the Celtics’ primary starting forward in 2018/19, averaging 13.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 1.5 APG with a .447/.375/.844 shooting line. He’ll join a Knicks frontcourt that also features newly-added veterans like Bobby Portis, Julius Randle, and Taj Gibson in addition to incumbent youngsters Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox.

The move to sign Morris exhausts New York’s cap room. The team has the room exception available to sign Bullock or another free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Executives Want Shorter Moratorium

Marcus Morrisdecision to join the Knicks after agreeing to an offer from the Spurs will add momentum to a push to shorten the summer moratorium, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Morris accepted a two-year, $20MM offer from San Antonio on July 6, but changed his mind a few days later when the Knicks agreed to give him $15MM for one season. New York had unexpected money available after renegotiating its deal with Reggie Bullock over health issues.

Bontemps points out that similar concerns arose last summer when Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell backed out of respective deals with the Sixers and Mavericks when they got better offers from the Kings.

Although executives that Bontemps spoke to at the Summer League were split in their opinions on these decisions, they are united in their dislike of the six-day moratorium, with one telling him, “It’s just too long.”

In the wake of his free agent odyssey, Morris has decided to change agents, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Morris has parted ways with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who is arguably the league’s most powerful agent and helped steer Anthony Davis to the Lakers. A source tells Bondy that Morris refused a three-year, $41MM offer from the Clippers before agreeing to the deals with the Spurs and then the Knicks.

Spurs Sign Forward Trey Lyles

JULY 12, 5:41pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JULY 11, 6:39pm: The Spurs have reached a contract agreement with free agent forward Trey Lyles, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). It’ll be a two-year deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jabari Young of The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that it’ll be worth about $11MM in total.

Lyles will be joining the Spurs in place of Marcus Morris, who tentatively agreed to a two-year, $19MM contract with San Antonio but will instead be signing a one-year, $15MM deal with New York. Wojnarowski suggests that the Spurs pulled their offer to Morris, but the veteran forward had reportedly been re-evaluating his options for at least a couple days.

Lyles is coming off a down year in Denver, having posted just 8.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG with a shooting line of .418/.255/.698 in 64 games (17.5 MPG). However, he flashed promising stretch-four potential in 2017/18, when he posted marks of 9.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .491/.381/.706 shooting.

The Nuggets originally tendered him a qualifying offer, but rescinded that QO after they acquired Jerami Grant in a trade with the Thunder, making Lyles an unrestricted free agent.

The Spurs had initially planned on signing DeMarre Carroll using their mid-level exception, but restructured that agreement to acquire Carroll via sign-and-trade, sending Davis Bertans to Washington and opening up the full mid-level for Morris. With that deal no longer happening, I’d expect Lyles to be signed using some of that MLE, though specific terms aren’t yet known.

Lyles may not provide the same sort of immediate impact that Morris would have, but he’s still just 23 years old and his ’17/18 performance suggests he has room to improve.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Ennis, Durant, Nets

When Kelly Oubre struck a deal with the Suns late on Wednesday night, he represented the last of the players on our list of 2019’s top 50 free agents to reach a contract agreement with a team. However, two of those agreements are in flux.

As we previously relayed, Reggie Bullock and the Knicks are attempting to rework a two-year, $21MM deal that fell apart due to an issue with Bullock’s physical, and Marcus Morris is re-evaluating his two-year, $19MM deal with the Spurs now that New York may have cap room again.

As of Thursday morning, there’s still mutual interest between Bullock and the Knicks in finding a new deal that works, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley notes that a source told him earlier this week that the Knicks are hopeful of landing Morris, whose veteran presence and toughness intrigues the club. Steve Popper of Newsday adds (via Twitter) that he has heard from people inside and outside the Knicks’ organization who think that Morris will end up in New York.

As we wait for resolution on those two free agents, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Atlantic…

  • After agreeing to a new deal with the Sixers as a free agent, forward James Ennis expressed major confidence in the team’s outlook for 2019/20, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “We had a good chance last year. Kawhi (Leonard) is gone. He went to the West,” Ennis said. “So we are going to walk to the Finals in the East.”
  • Kevin Durant initially “balked” at the idea of being signed-and-traded to the Nets straight up for D’Angelo Russell, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN. As Windhorst explains, Durant didn’t believe it was a fair deal, presumably because he could have signed outright with Brooklyn using the team’s cap room. The Warriors ultimately ended up including a heavily protected first-rounder in the swap not just to satisfy the Nets, but to satisfy KD, says Windhorst.
  • Sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the Nets‘ newly-added star power could increase Barclays Center revenues by about $40MM through “increased sponsorships, merchandising, and ticket sales.”

Marcus Morris Reconsidering Spurs Deal, Eyeing Knicks

4:25pm: According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, there’s still optimism that the Spurs and Morris will finalize their agreement. However, San Antonio has started reaching out to other free agent wings in case Morris decides to join the Knicks, sources tell Haynes.

Chris Mannix of SI.com tweets that Morris has been frustrated because he thought there would be a stronger market for his services. Since his Spurs offer has a second-year player option, he’d have the opportunity to return to free agency in 2020 no matter which team he chooses, but the Knicks’ reported offer would be worth significantly more over one year.

3:45pm: Free agent forward Marcus Morris, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Spurs on Sunday, is now reconsidering that agreement, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains, the Knicks project to have extra cap space available now that they’re reworking their initial agreement with Reggie Bullock, and Morris is considering signing with New York.

Jabari Young of The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that the word at Las Vegas Summer League is that there’s a one-year, $15MM deal available to Morris with the Knicks. According to Young, the Spurs – who were on track to sign Morris to a two-year, $19MM deal – are in “real danger” of losing the veteran forward.

If Morris reneges on his commitment to San Antonio, it would be a tough blow for the team, which turned its signing of DeMarre Carroll into a sign-and-trade deal in order to make its mid-level exception available for Morris. The Spurs sent sharpshooting forward Davis Bertans to the Wizards in that sign-and-trade for Carroll.

Should Morris sign with the Knicks, San Antonio would still have its full $9.25MM mid-level exception available, but there probably aren’t any other unrestricted free agents left on the market that would be worth a full MLE commitment.

The Knicks, meanwhile, were said to have significant interest in Morris heading into free agency, but seemingly addressed their power forward position by signing Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson.

Signing Morris would add even more veteran depth to their frontcourt, and would presumably exhaust the team’s cap room. In that scenario, perhaps Bullock – who is said to be working on a new deal with the Knicks – would fit into the room exception.

Morris, 29, had a solid year in Boston as the Celtics’ primary starting forward, averaging 13.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 1.5 APG with a .447/.375/.844 shooting line.

Spurs Marcus Morris Agree To Two-Year Contract

[UPDATE: The agreement between Morris and the Spurs has fallen apart, and he has instead opted to sign with the Knicks.]

The Spurs have agreed to terms with free agent forward Marcus Morris, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Morris will sign a two-year, $20MM contract with San Antonio. The deal will feature a second-year player option, Charania adds.

It appeared the Spurs wouldn’t have the flexibility to sign a player like Morris after seemingly committing most of their mid-level exception to DeMarre Carroll. However, San Antonio will acquire Carroll in a sign-and-trade after by sending Davis Bertans to Washington. That frees up the full mid-level, which will be used to sign Morris, as Jabari Young of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter).

Technically, Morris’ new deal will be worth just shy of $19MM over two years, with a first-year salary of $9.26MM. Using the full mid-level and acquiring Carroll via sign-and-trade will hard-cap the Spurs.

Morris, who earned the No. 22 spot on our list of this offseason’s top 50 free agents, was probably the most notable name still on the board after Kawhi Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins agreed to sign with the Clippers and Lakers, respectively. The 29-year-old had a solid year in Boston as the Celtics’ primary starting forward, averaging 13.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 1.5 APG with a .447/.375/.844 shooting line.

Marcus is the second Morris twin to agree to a new contract this week — his brother Markieff Morris joined the Pistons on a two-year deal of his own.

As for the Spurs, they could still be in the market for one more veteran big man, but they only have the minimum salary exception available and will remain patient, according to Young.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Mavs, Morris, Knicks, Wizards, Wolves

The Mavericks have interest in free agent forward Marcus Morris, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, confirming a report from Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com (Twitter link). However, Dallas has “a few [players] ahead” of Morris on their wish list, according to Townsend.

Danny Green is one of those names believed to be ahead of Morris. The Mavericks have been linked to the veteran sharpshooter since the start of free agency, and a tweet from the account for Green’s podcast today listed the Mavs, Raptors, and Lakers as the teams still in play for the veteran shooting guard. The Mavs aren’t expecting an answer from Green until tomorrow at the earliest though, says Townsend.

Here’s more on the NBA’s remaining free agents:

  • The Knicks project to have one slot open on their 15-man roster for next season, and Lance Thomas is the favorite to fill it, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link). New York recently waived Thomas to avoid guaranteeing his 2019/20 salary, but could bring him back on a more modest deal.
  • The Wizards haven’t circled back to free agent forward Jabari Parker so far, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link), who says that the market is “still developing” for the former No. 2 overall pick.
  • The Timberwolves have kicked the tires on free agent forward Jake Layman, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. Layman received a qualifying offer from the Trail Blazers, so he’s a restricted free agent.