Marcus Morris

California Notes: Clippers Offseason, Fox, Dwight, McNair

After blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals, the star-studded Clippers face an uncertain offseason, Danny Leroux of The Athletic writes. Leroux unpacks the potential fates of three Clipper big men worth tracking during Los Angeles’s offseason.

The team can re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Marcus Morris at a 20% annual raise using his Non-Bird Rights. However, Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, also an unrestricted free agent, may command more money than Los Angeles is comfortable paying him after a lackluster postseason performance, while JaMychal Green will most likely opt out of his $5MM player option for the 2020/21 season in search of a more lucrative payday. In Leroux’s view, the Clippers may look elsewhere for centers than small-ball options like Green and Harrell.

There are more notes from the NBA’s California teams:

  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox is eligible for a maximum extension of his rookie contract this offseason. Jason Jones of The Athletic assesses the pros and cons of such a deal being completed sooner rather than later, one of the big decisions facing new Sacramento general manager Monte McNair.
  • 34-year-old Lakers reserve center Dwight Howard has emerged as a legitimate antagonist against All-Star Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during the two teams’ Western Conference Finals series, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Howard was able to use his strength and length to impede Jokic’s passing ability in a Game 2 win. “As soon as I step onto the court, I’m gonna let him know that I’m there,” Howard said after the first game of the series, also a Lakers win.
  • During his introductory team press conference today, new Kings GM Monte McNair asserted that head coach Luke Walton will remain on the sidelines for the 2020/21 season, Jason Jones of The Athletic tweets.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the playoffs ongoing at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 28, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019

Heading into the playoffs, no one quite knew what the Celtics’ big man rotation would look like. There’s no doubt right now which center coach Brad Stevens trusts the most. Theis has played heavy minutes when he’s been able to stay out of foul trouble. He averaged 30.1 MPG in the seven-game series against the Raptors and was productive (10.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG) while keeping turnovers to a minimum (1.0). He’s averaged 33.5 MPG thus far against the Heat. Moreover, the Celtics’ staff trusts that Theis can switch onto a variety of players defensively. His $5MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed but it’s hard to imagine Boston would let him go.

Marcus Morris, Clippers, 31, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019

Morris had an interesting and controversial journey through free agency last summer. He reneged a two-year agreement with San Antonio and signed a one-year, $15MM pact with the Knicks. When the Clippers acquired Morris at the trade deadline, he was viewed as potentially the final piece to a championship puzzle. The Clippers crashed and burned in part because Morris was a non-factor as the series against the Nuggets wore on. In the last two games, Morris averaged 6.0 PPG and shot 3-for-14 from the field. He was better at being an irritant than a difference-maker. It will be interesting to see if his price tag drops this offseason.

Serge Ibaka, Raptors, 31, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $65MM deal in 2017

Ibaka had a strong postseason run while coming off the bench. He averaged 14.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 1.3 BPG in 22.8 MPG while making 51.1% of his 3-point attempts. Ibaka turns 31 on Friday but he’ll receive his biggest birthday gift in the coming months when the Raptors or some other suitor hands him a lucrative deal. ESPN’s Bobby Marks believes he will get full $9.3MM mid-level exception offers from playoff teams without cap space but that Toronto may offer a one-year deal at $18MM to keep him and preserve cap space for next summer.

Monte Morris, Nuggets, 25, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4.66MM deal in 2018

When Malik Beasley was dealt to the Timberwolves in February, Morris became the clear-cut backup to Jamal Murray. He’s been a key piece off the bench during the Nuggets’ dream run to the Western Conference Finals. Morris averaged just 16.6 MPG against the Clippers but scored in double digits four times during the series. He’s also played smart and poised, making more steals (10) than turnovers (8) in 297 minutes during the first two playoff series. Morris has a $1.66MM non-guaranteed salary for next season. That seems like a very big bargain.

Meyers Leonard, Heat, 28, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $41MM deal in 2016

The Heat have received significant contributions from a good chunk of their roster during their surprising carpet ride to the Eastern Conference Finals. Leonard hasn’t been among that group. Leonard, who made $11.3MM this season, was a starter until February when he suffered an ankle injury. He’s been relegated to cheerleading status during the restart, appearing in two seeding games and one postseason game. He was mainly a second-unit player in Portland before this season and he’ll have to compete for a rotation spot wherever he lands next season.

Bulls Notes: Unseld, Coaching Candidates, FA Targets

Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. made a stronger case for the Bulls‘ head coaching vacancy after Denver defeated the Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski notes that Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas, who worked in Denver’s front office with Unseld, already thought highly of him. The 44-year-old assistant coach also received a ringing endorsement from Nuggets head coach Mike Malone after their victory in Game 7. “Wes Unseld should be a head coach,” Malone said.

Unseld is reportedly among 10 candidates who were a part of Karnisovas’ original list for the Bulls’ head coaching job.

Here’s more from the Windy City:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago evaluates the 10 candidates connected to the Bulls’ head coaching vacancy. Johnson notes that outside of former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and former Thunder head coach Billy Donovan, the rest of the candidates are assistant coaches. Former Bulls coach Jim Boylen was an assistant before getting promoted to head coach.
  • Bulls rookie point guard Coby White potentially divulged some inside information about the team’s head coaching search on Wednesday, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. White was asked by reporters what he wants in the next head coach and mentioned the team’s timeline for the position. “We haven’t talked about the new coach because it’s so spread out right now. They haven’t really narrowed it down to the people that — I think, don’t they narrow it down Friday or something like that?” According to Cowley, there are indications that Chicago has moved on to the second round of interviews, with the first round reportedly wrapping up last week.
  • In his latest mailbag, Sam Smith of Bulls.com takes a look at some potential free agent targets for Chicago. Smith writes that if veteran forward Otto Porter opts into his $28MM player option, the Bulls will be over the salary cap. Therefore, the team will likely be out of the running for a top-tier free agent until next offseason. That being said, Smith likes Markieff Morris or Marcus Morris, along with Davis Bertans, and possibly former first-round pick Emmanuel Mudiay.

Clippers Notes: Game 7 Loss, Next Steps, Kawhi, George

The Clippers blew double-digit leads in each of their last three games against Denver, losing the series and missing out on a date with the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Having failed to advance after taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, the team was left searching for answers on Tuesday night.

As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details, head coach Doc Rivers accepted blame for the club’s shortcomings and suggested that conditioning issues played a part in the Clippers’ inability to put Denver away. However, Lou Williams and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard pointed to chemistry issues as they looked to explain the club’s disappointing postseason run.

“I think a lot of the issues that we ran into, talent bailed us out. Chemistry it didn’t,” Williams said. “In this series, it failed us.”

“We just couldn’t make shots,” Leonard said. “That’s when it comes to the team chemistry, knowing what we should run to get the ball in spots or just if someone’s getting doubled or they’re packing the paint, try to make other guys make shots, and we gotta know what exact spots we need to be. And you know, just gotta carry over and get smarter as a team. Get smarter. Basketball IQ got to get better.”

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising comment of the night came from Paul George, whom the Clippers acquired last summer in a deal that cost the team Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks, and two first-round pick swaps.

I think internally, we always felt this was not a championship-or-bust year for us,” George said, per Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • The Clippers are now very much on the clock, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who points out that Leonard and George can opt for free agency in 2021. Rival executives don’t expect the Clips to make major changes, but they could make a trade to bring in more talent if they’re willing to take on some long-term money, writes Windhorst.
  • One rival executive suggested to Windhorst that the Clippers are essentially pot-committed to their win-now approach, meaning it doesn’t make sense for them to back off now by significantly shaking up the roster. “You’ve heard of the saying, ‘In for a dime, in for a dollar’?” the exec said. “Well, they’re in for 95 cents, in for a dollar.”
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) also explored what’s next for the Clippers. As Marks points out, one of the first orders of business for the team will be figuring out which of its major free agents – Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, and JaMychal Green – can and should be re-signed. Harrell and Morris are unrestricted free agents, while Green has a $5MM player option that he may turn down.
  • Marks also notes that the Clips could offer a George a contract extension worth up to $128.9MM over three years, if they so choose. George would be 32 years old before that extension begins in 2022 though, so it’s not clear how aggressive L.A. will be on that front.

Marcus Morris, Luka Doncic Receive Fines

Clippers forward Marcus Morris and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic have both been fined for incidents in Sunday’s Game 6 of their playoff series, the league announced.

Morris was fined $35K for “recklesssly striking” Doncic on a Flagrant 2 foul in the first quarter, resulting in Morris’ ejection (Twitter link). Morris’ history played a role in the amount of the fine, according to the statement, which notes that he has been “disciplined on several prior occasions for physical altercations on the court.”

Doncic received a $15K fine for “throwing the ball off the legs of a game official,” the league tweeted. It happened midway through the third quarter, and Doncic was assessed a technical foul.

Lou Williams Temporarily Leaves NBA Campus

A third Clippers player has left the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), who hears that Lou Williams has been excused for personal reasons and is expected to return soon.

Williams joins Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley as Clippers players who have left the Disney campus to attend to personal matters within the last few days.

While it seems likely that those three players will all return well before the postseason begins in mid-August, the Clippers could have another absence to prepare for down the road. According to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), forward Marcus Morris said today that he has a son due in September and plans to be there for the birth.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said.

Depending on when exactly Morris leaves and how the Clippers fare in the playoffs, he could end up missing a portion of the Western Conference Semifinals or Western Finals.

Players who leave the NBA’s campus with team and/or league approval must quarantine for four days upon returning, as long as they return negative coronavirus tests every day they’re away (or for each of their last seven days away, if they’re gone for more than a week). Failing to take those tests on a daily basis would result in a quarantine period of up to 10-14 days — obviously, a positive COVID-19 test would result in a longer absence.

Pacific Notes: Morris Twins, Barnes, Suns, Noah, More

There are a few players who showed up on the list of official rosters released on Monday by the NBA who still haven’t reported to the Walt Disney World campus. However, more players continue to arrive by the day.

According to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register (Twitter link), Clippers forward Marcus Morris is at the team’s Tuesday morning practice today, having reported to the campus and cleared his quarantine period. His twin brother Markieff Morris will be joining the Lakers soon, Marcus tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets that Markieff is expected to arrive at the campus today and will begin his initial quarantine.

Meanwhile, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, could depart for Orlando as soon as today if he returns one more negative coronavirus test, Spears reports (via Twitter).

Finally, Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes, Elie Okobo, and Jalen Lecque didn’t make the initial trip to Orlando two weeks ago with the Suns and still hadn’t practiced with the club as of Sunday, sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. A pair of Suns players tested positive for the coronavirus nearly a month ago, but it’s not clear if any or all of the delayed arrivals are related to COVID-19.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kings forward Jabari Parker and center Alex Len spoke to reporters on Monday about their experiences with COVID-19, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details. Len, who said he temporarily lost his sense of smell and taste while dealing with the virus, tested positive for 24 consecutive days before eventually returning multiple negative tests and being cleared.
  • Clippers big man Joakim Noah has benefited from the NBA’s hiatus, which gave him more time to get fully healthy after suffering an Achilles injury, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Noah’s new teammates are impressed by what they’ve seen so far from the veteran center. “He’s just bringing that energy every day,” guard Rodney McGruder said. “That’s something that I’m learning from him, and it’s just the intensity and just the persistence that he plays with on the defensive end, how you always hear his voice. He’s always yelling, he’s always talking.”
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic identifies the wings in this year’s draft class that he thinks would fit best with the Warriors, including Isaac Okoro, Aaron Nesmith, and Saddiq Bey.

California Notes: MCW, Clippers, Kings, Smith, Waiters

The Warriors will need to consider free agent backup point guard candidates during their upcoming offseason. Since Golden State will be stretched thin due to some exorbitant contracts to the team’s top four players, The Athletic’s Anthony Slater makes the case for 28-year-old injury-prone non-shooter Michael Carter-Williams, an unrestricted free agent, on a league minimum.

Carter-Williams, a career 40.3% shooter from the floor (and a 25.6% shooter from deep), has logged time with the Sixers, Bucks, Bulls, Hornets, Rockets and Magic in his seven NBA seasons. Slater lauds the 6’5″ guard’s size and notes that his three-point shooting has improved with Orlando, adding that he was a +27 in his time on the floor during the Magic’s three road games, all wins, before the NBA season pause on March 11. For 2019/20, Carter-Williams is shooting a below-average 29.4% from long range, which would be his career-high over a full season.

There are more updates out of California:

  • The Clippers are using their practices in the NBA’s Disney World campus to fully integrate recent additions Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Joakim Noah, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. “It’s pretty much we know who we want to play, but as far as the rotations and the minutes, I think that’s still a little bit in flux,” head coach Doc Rivers noted. “We’ll see. You kind of decide on what you’re going to do going by how you’re practicing.”
  • With several Kings players currently unavailable, rookies Justin James, Kyle Guy and DaQuan Jeffries will be able to use team practices and scrimmages in Disney World as an opportunity to prove their mettle, according to The Athletic’s Jason Jones. Sacramento head coach Luke Walton noted that the young players are “getting crucial reps in practice and most likely, at least in the preseason (scrimmage) games, they’ll be getting some meaningful minutes as well.”
  • Newly-minted Lakers wings J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters have been using their Orlando campus tenure to bond with their L.A. teammates, per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Head coach Frank Vogel commended the team’s new backcourt additions with helping to stoke everyone’s competitive fire. “They both bring toughness and swag — those guys are killers,” Vogel said. “They go after it with great competitive spirit and they have the talent to back it up and be highly productive on the court.”

Pacific Notes: Wiseman, Warriors, Sarver, Clippers

The Warriors have already met with some prominent draft prospects via Zoom, including center James Wiseman and guard LaMelo Ball, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Wiseman is currently rated at No. 3 by ESPN with Ball at No. 2, just behind Georgia guard Anthony Edwards. With the draft rescheduled to October 15th, the Warriors anticipate they’ll get to evaluate prospects in person at some point.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • With the Warriors left out of the 22-team restart of the season, Draymond Green stands to benefit the most among the franchise’s players, Slater opines in a separate story. Green had been nursing a variety of injuries prior to the suspension of play and now he’ll get plenty of time to heal up prior to next season. Young players such as Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic and Mychal Mulder will be hurt the most by the long gap between seasons, Slater adds.
  • Suns owner Robert Sarver says there are many hurdles to clear before play can resume in Orlando on July 31, according to Matt Layman of ArizonaSports.com. Sarver made his comments in a radio interview with 98.7 FM. “The logistics with Disney — you know a number of these hotels have had layoffs, have been partially closed or fully closed, and so there’s a re-startup there,” he said. “And then there’s the whole health concern with COVID-19 and how that plays out and making sure that we go back to what our first priority was, which was the health and safety of the players and the staff.”
  • If the Clippers are able to re-sign free agents Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell, they’re likely to bring back virtually the same team next season, John Hollinger of The Athletic predicted in a conversation with fellow Athletic writer Jovan Buha. Hollinger believes in that scenario the only additions will be a second-round draft pick and a minimum-contract point guard to replace Reggie Jackson.

L.A. Notes: Lakers, Green, Clippers, Morris

As the top-seeded team in the Western Conference when the NBA went on hiatus in March, the Lakers have a vested interest in what form the league will take upon its return this summer. With that in mind, Brett Dawson, Bill Oram, and Brian and Andy Kamenetzky of The Athletic explore how each of the proposed playoff formats would impact the Lakers and discuss which ones the team might favor.

The Athletic’s panel agrees that the Lakers, who are already losing home-court advantage – assuming the NBA resumes play in Orlando with no fans in attendance – would be opposed to a World Cup-style, play-in pool, which would increase the likelihood of a top team being knocked out early in the postseason.

However, The Athletic’s writers think L.A. would be all over the idea of reseeding the playoff teams one through 16, regardless of conference. In that scenario, the Lakers wouldn’t have to get past the Clippers to get to the NBA Finals — they’d instead be pitted against the Jazz or Rockets in round two and likely the Nuggets or Raptors in the semi-finals.

Here’s more on the NBA’s Los Angeles teams:

  • Lakers guard Danny Green has stayed busy during the NBA’s layoff in part due to his role as the team’s union representative, writes Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. It’s a responsibility Green takes seriously, having kept his teammates up to date on the latest discussions between the NBA and NBPA. “I care about the game of basketball and the next generation and want to make it better for them,” Green said of his NBPA role. “I’ll be, in the future, the old guy. It’s a fraternity you gotta make sure that it comes full circle where everybody is getting taken care of.”
  • Jovan Buha and John Hollinger of The Athletic dig into the Clippers‘ outlook beyond this season, with Hollinger arguing that retaining Marcus Morris should be a top priority for the club after surrendering a first-round pick for him at the trade deadline. The team also figures to try to re-sign Montrezl Harrell, though Hollinger notes that there are a number of potential center alternatives on the free agent market if the Clips get outbid for Harrell.
  • In case you missed it a few weeks ago, we previewed the Lakers‘ and Clippers‘ salary cap outlook for the 2020/21 season, taking a closer look at how much spending flexibility each team will have this offseason.