Marcus Morris

Knicks Have Interest In Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris

While Kyrie Irving has been linked to New York for months, he’s not the only Celtics free agent that the Knicks will have their eye on this offseason. League sources tell A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston that the Knicks will also have interest in Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris.

Rozier, who is finishing his rookie contract with Boston, will be eligible for restricted free agent, meaning the Celtics will have the option to match any offer sheet he signs, assuming they issue him a qualifying offer to retain his rights. Morris will be an unrestricted free agent.

While Rozier and Morris may be among the names on the Knicks’ wish list, the team figures to use its cap room to target top-tier free agents like Irving and Kevin Durant before turning to its Plan B or C. According to Blakely, New York has also expressed some interest in Daniel Theis, but he’d be even further down the club’s list, and isn’t considered a likely target.

Rozier’s free agency should be one of the more interesting cases this summer, particularly among non-stars. He spoke at the end of the Celtics’ season about wanting a “fresh start” and a more prominent role, whether that happens in Boston or elsewhere. And during an appearance today on ESPN’s Get Up (video link via Chris Grenham of NESN), he expressed little interest in returning to Boston if the C’s plan to run it back in 2019/20 with the same roster.

“I might have to go,” Rozier told Stephen A. Smith when asked about that scenario. “I put up with a lot this year. I said what I said after the season. I think we all know that I’m not trying to step into that again.”

During the same interview, Rozier also didn’t exactly offer an enthusiastic endorsement for his experience of playing alongside – and behind – Irving in Boston.

“He’s a great guy, great leader,” Rozier said of Irving (video link via The Undefeated). “You know, you just have to adjust to his style. Whatever Kyrie wants done, he’s gonna show it, that’s what he wants done. You have to adjust to his style of play and how he goes about every game and every day.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Eastern Conference

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we turn our attention to the Eastern Conference:

Marcus Morris, Celtics, 29, SF/PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $20MM deal in 2015
Unlike his brother Markieff, who played sparingly for the Thunder during their annual first-round flame-out, Marcus remains a valued member of Boston’s rotation. Other than a goose egg in Game 2 against Indiana, Morris has delivered steady production. He’s shooting 49.1% overall and 40.7% from distance while ranking second on the team in rebounds (6.7). He posted a +11.1 net rating on NBA.com’s postseason advanced stats entering Game 3 against Milwaukee. He had 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks on Friday. Morris’ toughness and ability to play both forward positions will make him attractive in the free agent market.

Jimmy Butler, Sixers, 29, SF (Up) — Signed to a five-year, $92.3MM deal in 2017
Butler hurt his reputation by whining his way out of Minnesota. After forcing the Timberwolves’ hand, he got a chance to chase at least a conference title in Philadelphia. Following some ho-hum performances against Brooklyn, Butler has performed like a max-level player against Toronto the last two games. He’s averaged 26.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 7.0 APG and 2.0 SPG in those victories. You can put up with his abrasive style when he produces like that. He remains firmly entrenched as the third-best free agent wing — and perhaps overall player — behind Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.

Sterling Brown, Bucks, 24, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
Brown’s contract for next season becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster at the beginning of July, when free agency begins. That in itself seems to be a near guarantee. With Malcolm Brogdon sidelined, Brown has received rotation minutes for much of the postseason. His most noteworthy performance came in the series clincher against Detroit when posted nine points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Brown also plays with a little bit of an edge and can get under opponents’ skin. Brown sat in Game 3 of the series with Boston but he’s already done enough to stay on the roster, especially with Brogdon a restricted free agent and Khris Middleton unrestricted.

Danny Green, Raptors, 31, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $40MM deal in 2015
Green’s contributions to the scoring column are predicated on knocking down threes. A whopping 69% of his field-goal attempts during the regular season came from beyond the arc and he made a career-high 45.5%. It’s been a lot rougher in the postseason. He shot 31.8% from deep in the Orlando series and has made 30.6% in the first three games against Philadelphia. Green should still find a starting job this summer, whether he re-signs with Toronto or a team seeking veteran help. But his lack of versatility will limit the size of those offers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Morris, Fournier, Kanter, Booker

Celtics forward Marcus Morris believes Thunder coach Billy Donovan made a big mistake by using his brother Markieff Morris sparingly during their playoff series against Portland, Jay King of The Athletic reports.

Markieff Morris chose to play with Oklahoma City after reaching a buyout with New Orleans, which acquired him from the Wizards at the trade deadline. Markieff played just four minutes in Game 5 and between 13 and 15 minutes in the other games of the series won by the Trail Blazers, 4-1.

“I’m not a coach or anything like that, but I feel like they just didn’t utilize their bench enough. I feel like my brother went over there for no reason,” Marcus said. “He never got an opportunity to play. I thought that he would really help them in the playoffs, but from what I seen he should have went somewhere else just to be able to show that veteran leadership and that experience.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers made an offer for Magic swingman Evan Fournier that Orlando passed on prior to the trade deadline, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. Portland was willing to ship a roster player and a protected first-rounder for Fournier, who will make $17MM next season and holds a player option on his $17MM salary for the 2020/21 season.
  • Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter played with a separated left shoulder in Game 5, Kevin Pelton of ESPN reports. Kanter suffered the injury during the opening quarter but managed to play 32 minutes. He received a pain-killing injection at halftime. Kanter averaged 13.2 PPG and 10.2 RPG in the series as the primary replacement for injured Jusuf Nurkic. Portland would have to rely more on Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard in the conference semifinals if Kanter is forced to miss any games.
  • Suns star guard Devin Booker had no input in the firing of coach Igor Kokoskov, GM James Jones told the Arizona Republic’s Katherine Fitzgerald and other media members. “I speak to Devin, I speak to all of our players, about our organization. But in these instances, this isn’t a decision for Devin to make. This is my decision,” Jones said. That’s curious, since Booker indicated after signing his five-year maximum salary extension that he’d have a say in all major moves going forward.  I think it’s a collective agreement. Moving forward, throwing in any advice I can, stay in the loop and watch what’s going on and know what’s going on,” Booker said last month.
  • The Rockets held a predraft workout on Wednesday that included Mississippi guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, Washington guard Jalyen Nowell and Campbell guard Chris Clemons, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.  Houston does not currently own a pick in this year’s draft. Nowell is the highest-ranked prospect among the trio, as he’s ranked No. 87 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Marks, Tatum, Irving

The Knicks need to keep on tanking to assure themselves a top five pick in the draft, Steve Popper of Newsday argues. The team with the worst record can’t fall any lower than the fifth pick under the new draft lottery rules, Popper notes, and the Suns currently hold that distinction after New York ended its 18-game losing streak. After the top five players, including Duke’s trio of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, there’s an apparent dropoff in talent. The team with the second-worst record has a 20% chance of falling to the No. 6 slot, Popper adds.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have made so much progress over the last three seasons under GM Sean Marks that they’re in play for top-level free agents, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Brooklyn has turned into a playoff-caliber team under Marks’ guidance. “Things surrounding the team probably look a lot more attractive to the outside,” Marks told Lewis. “We’re a more attractive destination. The young guys we know are going to be Nets for the foreseeable future, we’re proud of their development and that’s a pretty good foundation. People have taken notice and said, ‘Hey, I [could] play with that group.”
  • Boston hasn’t played like champions most of the season but one of its young stars says they’ll end up with the Larry O’Brien trophy. Jayson Tatum declared to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (hat tip to Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston) that the Celtics are going all the way. “We’re gonna win the Finals this year,” Tatum said. “Feb. 16, Jayson Tatum says (the Celtics) are going to win the Finals this year.”
  • Kyrie Irving agreed to some extent with Marcus Morris‘ criticism shortly before the All-Star break that the Celtics weren’t playing hard enough or having enough fun, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald relays. Boston won its last two games before the break after Morris’ comments. “Well, I mean, there was some truth into it,” Irving said. “You know, we obviously understand that we have a lot of talent in our locker room, so it’s been a lot to manage. But we’ve come out pretty successful — obviously not as successful as we would like to be, but that’s just overall the attitude that you have to have in order to win in this league.”

Markieff Morris Draws Interest From Several Teams

Free agent forward Markieff Morris has drawn interest from the Rockets, Lakers and Raptors, agent Rich Paul told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Morris was dealt from the Wizards to the Pelicans last week and subsequently waived. He has not played since December 26 due to a neck injury, but was cleared to resume full basketball activities on Monday by spinal specialist Dr. Robert Watkins of Los Angeles, Haynes continues. He’s expected to decide which team to join this week, Haynes adds.

Morris, 29, has appeared in 34 games this season, including 15 starts, averaging 11.5 PPG and 5.1 RPG.

All of Morris’ reported suitors have open roster spots via deals made prior to last week’s deadline. They’re also playoff contenders seeking a rotation piece for the stretch drive and postseason.

The Lakers’ interest was previously reported, though they’ve also been linked to Carmelo Anthony.

Celtics forward Marcus Morris posted a tweet on Monday expressing his desire to become teammates with his brother again, as they had been in Phoenix. However, the Celtics have not shown any interest in making that happen, according to an NBC Sports Boston report.

Marcus Morris: “Hasn’t Been Any Fun” In Boston

Marcus Morris provided some insight into the Celtics‘ locker room situation after Saturday’s loss to the Clippers, relays Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Morris’ comments came at the end of a miserable night for the team, which squandered a 28-point lead and saw Kyrie Irving leave in the second quarter with a sprained right knee.

With the Celtics reeling from back-to-back losses to both L.A. teams, Morris said the season “just hasn’t been fun for a long time.” Boston, which was projected to be the top team in the East, has underachieved all season long, sporting a 35-21 record and holding the fifth spot in the conference. Players have been asked to adjust to new roles, Irving has publicly called out his younger teammates, speculation has started that he might break his verbal commitment to re-sign with Boston and there have been persistent rumors that the team will break up its core in a few months to chase Anthony Davis.

“For me, it’s not really about [Saturday’s] loss. It’s about the attitudes that we’re playing with,” Morris said. “Guys are hanging their heads. It’s just not fun. It’s not fun. We’re not competing at a high level.

“Even though we’re winning, it’s not fun. I don’t see the joy in the game. I watch all these other teams around the league and guys are up on the bench, they’re jumping on the court, they’re doing all of this other stuff that looks like they’re enjoying their teammates’ success, they’re enjoying everything, and they’re playing together and they’re playing to win. And when I look at us, I just see a bunch of individuals.”

Morris volunteered to give up his starting role if a rotation shakeup might help the team, but Forsberg suggests that’s not the best solution. The Celtics’ starting five has been among the NBA’s best when Irving has been healthy.

As Forsberg notes, there’s no obvious solution to what has gone wrong. Talent isn’t the issue, as prior to the trade deadline, Morris lobbied the front office to keep the current team together. It appeared players were starting to embrace their roles amid a recent winning streak, but the last two losses have raised questions again.

“I’ve never seen a team that’s not having fun, that’s not bonding well on the court, win a championship,” said Morris. “If the goal is to win a championship, that has to change first.”

Ellis’ Latest: Pistons, Conley, G. Harris, Knicks

The Pistons are on the verge of completing a trade that will send Reggie Bullock to the Lakers, and they may not be done making moves before Thursday’s deadline, according to a pair of beat writers.

Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets that he believes the Pistons will be exploring the market for other cost-saving deals or potential additions. Meanwhile, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) hears that the team is working on acquiring more draft picks.

Ellis has shared a few more rumors, including another one on the Pistons, so we’ll pass those along in this space:

  • According to Ellis (Twitter link), the Pistons apparently don’t expect to land Mike Conley from the Grizzlies. A source tells Ellis that Memphis was “asking too much.” The Jazz and Raptors are among the other teams that have been linked to Conley, with the Utah talks believed to have been more serious.
  • While Ellis doesn’t expect anything to happen on this front this week, he has heard from several people recently that Nuggets guard Gary Harris could be had in a trade (Twitter link). As Ellis observes, moving Harris would help Denver create a little more long-term flexibility, and has become a more viable option given the emergence of Malik Beasley.
  • Ellis identifies the Knicks as a probable suitor for Celtics forward Marcus Morris in free agency this summer (Twitter link). Morris would presumably be a Plan B for New York, since it likely wouldn’t be possible to fit in a contract for him alongside two maximum-salary deals.

Deveney’s Latest: Wizards, Sixers, Fultz, Morris

After sharing some trade-related notes on the Trail Blazers, Dario Saric, and Wesley Matthews on Monday, Sean Deveney of Sporting News is back with another handful of trade rumors today. Let’s dive right in and round up the highlights…

  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said last week that there are no plans to trade John Wall, Bradley Beal, or Otto Porter at this year’s deadline, and rival executives have heard the same thing in discussions with Washington, writes Deveney. “They’re not budging,” one exec said of the Wizards. “Maybe they’d deal Porter, but they want a star-type player back, and that’s not happening.”
  • The Sixers aren’t yet ready to move on from Markelle Fultz, sources tell Deveney. Fultz is still 20 years old and his value has cratered, so Philadelphia will hold out hope that he can rebuild that value. However, that stance could change in the offseason if the team views Fultz as a key trade chip to acquire important role players.
  • The Sixers have been “very active” on the trade market as they seek depth, but would be content to go the buyout route if necessary, after having success there a year ago, says Deveney.
  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris isn’t a trade candidate, given how important he has been in Boston this season. “I would hate to think where they’d be without Morris,” one scout told Deveney. “All the stuff that’s gone on, at least on the floor, he kind of holds it together for them.”
  • Morris will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and executives around the NBA predict that he’ll command a starting salary in the $11-12MM range, according to Deveney. “Two years makes sense, but maybe a third year on an option,” said one GM. Deveney names the Kings, Jazz, and Pacers as teams that could have interest in the Celtics forward during the offseason.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Atlantic Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Atlantic Division:

Marcus Morris, Celtics, 29, PF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $20MM deal in 2015
Morris will get a nice bump in pay from the team-friendly contract he signed with Phoenix a few years ago. In the last couple of weeks, he’s been in a shooting slump. He’s 7-for-29 from long range over the last six games and has scored 11 or fewer points in five of them. The Celtics don’t rely on Morris for scoring, as evidenced by their five-game winning streak. He’ll eventually perk up offensively and his defensive versatility and rebounding will keep him in the rotation.

D’Angelo Russell, Nets, 22, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $23MM deal in 2015
Has any free agent increased his value as much as Russell in recent weeks? If so, it’s an awfully close call. Russell has blown up this month, averaging 24.1 PPG and 7.7 APG for the surging Nets. In the past two weeks alone, Russell hung up 34 points and seven assists against Boston and 40 points and seven assists against Orlando. He added a 25-point, 10-assist performance against the Magic on Wednesday. Russell will be a restricted free agent and the Nets now have to consider using a chunk of their cap space to re-sign him. It will intriguing to see if any team calls the Nets’ bluff with an offer sheet.

Enes Kanter, Knicks, 26, C (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $70MM deal in 2015
Kanter is still in his prime but he’s been swept into the undertow of New York’s youth movement. Kanter didn’t leave the bench on Wednesday and is now pining for a trade. With the hope of landing a big fish in the free agent pond, the Knicks had no intention of re-signing Kanter. But his diminished role isn’t exactly enhancing his value during his walk year. Kanter puts up solid numbers in the points and rebounds columns but his defensive shortcomings and lack of shotblocking prowess will depress his market.

Kawhi Leonard, Raptors, 27, SF (Up) — Signed to a five-year, $94.3MM deal in 2015
The Raptors essentially gave Leonard a week’s vacation by sitting him out for four consecutive games. They’re treating him with kid gloves with the hope he’ll take off the gloves in the summer and sign the dotted line with them. When he has played, he’s been dynamite. He’s averaging career highs in points (27.6 PPG) and rebounds (7.9), alleviating concerns that the quad injury that limited him to nine games last season would be a long-term issue. The Raptors have played quite well without Leonard but there’s no doubt that their hopes of reaching the NBA Finals rest on Leonard’s shoulders.

Amir Johnson, Sixers, 31 (Down)– Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
Johnson has carved out a nice career after getting drafted in the second round by Detroit in 2005. His playing time has gradually diminished over the last six seasons and he’s down to 9.3 MPG for Philadelphia this season. Johnson has never been a prolific rebounder but he can help at the defensive end. Lately, he’s dealt with some migraines. If Johnson wants to continue his career going forward, he’ll be looking at a veteran’s minimum contract once again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Locker Room, Irving, Morris, Rozier

The Celtics‘ disappointing season may have split the locker room between veterans and some of the young players who helped reach the conference finals last year, suggests Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (hat tip to Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston). The Eastern Conference favorites heading into the season, the Celtics are in fifth place at 25-17 as some players have been resistant to accepting new roles with the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injuries.

“It does seem like there’s a divide in that locker room between the veterans on that team and the younger players on that team,” Mannix said Saturday on the Celtics’ post-game show. “I don’t know how big that divide is, how significant it is, is it fractured. But there does seem to be kind of a chasm that exists between those two sides.”

Boston is coming off a disastrous trip to Florida that included two losses and a pair of incidents that shined a light on the internal conflicts. Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown exchanged words during a time out Thursday in Miami, and Irving was visibly upset after an unsuccessful play at the end of last night’s game in Orlando.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Irving seemed to take a shot at his younger teammates in post-game comments Saturday, saying the Celtics are lacking the “experience” it takes to compete for a title, relays Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston“You’ve got to appreciate being out there and just competing,” Irving said as part of a long answer on why the team has gone through peaks and valleys. “It doesn’t matter who you’re going against. It matters the type of preparation you have, what you’re going out and trying to accomplish. What’s the big picture? What are we doing here? These are things I don’t think some of my teammates have faced just every single day. It’s not easy to be great.”
  • Morris’ brand of leadership is exactly what the team needs, contends A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. In addition to being the Celtics’ most consistent player throughout the season, Morris has lived up to his reputation for being willing to confront teammates who he believes aren’t giving their best effort. “To be the team we want to be, we have to be open with each other and be able to discuss things that are going on, on the court,” Morris said. “If it leads to a little bumping, pushing and shoving … it’s nothing. You move past that type of stuff and keep going.”
  • Terry Rozier had another bad performance last night, missing all five of his shots in 17 minutes, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge may have missed his best chance to trade him, writes Keith Smith on CelticsBlog. Rozier will be a restricted free agent this summer.