Markieff Morris

Pacific Notes: CP3, Suns, Clippers, Ibaka, Morris, Warriors

At age 35, Chris Paul is more than a decade older than Suns cornerstone players Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. However, the star point guard doesn’t plan to simply be the veteran mentor on a young Phoenix roster — he made it clear during his first media session this week that he also wants to help the team get back to the postseason, as Royce Young of ESPN writes.

“Everyone always talks about what I can teach (Booker) or teach some of these other guys, but they’re teaching me at the same time too,” Paul said. “I’m not James Naismith by no means. First things first, I’m not just coming in here trying to teach everybody. I’m his teammate. We’re here to hoop, we’re here to compete and that’s how I approach this.”

Meanwhile, Booker and Ayton are excited by the opportunity to team up with a 10-time All-Star like Paul, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, who says both players were shocked when they first heard about the trade bringing CP3 to Phoenix.

“I wanted to do a backflip,” Ayton said. “You ever seen a seven-footer do a backflip? OK. That’s how excited I was.”

Besides getting an opportunity to play with up-and-coming stars like Booker and Ayton, Paul is looking forward to reuniting with head coach Monty Williams, whom he played for in New Orleans for a single season 10 years ago. Williams said this week that he thinks both he and Paul have “grown a lot” in the last decade.

“I think we both were really headstrong, too, back then,” Williams said, according to Young. “I was walking around like a dictator ready to cut somebody’s head off, trying to implement my way and my program. I don’t think I was really good at allowing him to do what the great ones do. There were times I felt like I took the paintbrush out of (Paul’s) hand.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • After chemistry issues helped sink the Clippers last season, head coach Tyronn Lue is confident he’ll be able to hold players accountable in his new role by always being blunt and honest, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “What I learned from Brian Shaw a long time ago was always tell the truth, whether they like it or not,” Lue said. “Even (back in his playing days) with Kobe and Shaq, just telling those guys the truth. They might not like it, but they respect it.”
  • Serge Ibaka‘s friendship with Kawhi Leonard was a factor in his decision to join the Clippers in free agency, he said on Thursday, as Swanson relays in a separate O.C. Register story. “One thing about me and Kawhi is like, there is no ego in our friendship,” Ibaka said. “… I know who he is and he knows as a teammate what I can do for him, for the team and it is make things smoother and easier.”
  • Lakers forward Markieff Morris said this week that rumors last month about him potentially teaming up with twin brother Marcus Morris for the Clippers were “just talk,” per Swanson. “They were just trying to scare Lakers fans,” Markieff said.
  • Warriors big man Marquese Chriss is confident that there will be plenty of minutes at center to go around around for him, Kevon Looney, and No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, as Marcus White of NBC Sports Bay Area details.

Lakers Trade McGee, Future Second-Rounder To Cavs

NOVEMBER 23: The deal is official, according to a press release from the Cavs. Cleveland acquires McGee and the Lakers’ second-round pick in exchange for McKinnie and Bell, as expected.


NOVEMBER 22: The Lakers are set to send center JaVale McGee and a future second-round draft pick to the Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). This will create flexibility below the hard cap to allow the Lakers to sign veteran center Marc Gasol.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the second-round pick will be from the 2026 NBA draft. Fedor reports in a separate tweet that small forward Alfonzo McKinnie and big man Jordan Bell will be headed to Los Angeles in the deal.

McGee has a $4.2MM cap charge for 2020/21, which the Cavaliers have no way to absorb without sending out some salary themselves. McKinnie ($1.76MM) and Bell ($1.76MM) are currently on non-guaranteed deals, but their salaries will have to be at least partially guaranteed to make the deal work. The Cavs have to send out about $2.34MM and non-guaranteed money doesn’t count for salary-matching purposes.

Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that the likely outcome will see McKinnie being fully guaranteed, while Bell gets about a $600K guarantee. The Lakers could then waive and stretch Bell to create a little extra flexibility.

McGee started at center for most of the Lakers’ 2019/20 championship season, but was supplanted in the starting lineup during the last two rounds of the playoffs by the more mobile Markieff Morris or Dwight Howard most of the time, with Anthony Davis shifting from power forward to center to close out the Heat in Game 6 of the Finals. McGee is a three-time champion thanks to tenures with the Warriors and Lakers.

It doesn’t sound as if the Cavaliers view McGee as a mere salary dump. The team wanted a veteran big man with experience coming off the bench behind Andre Drummond, according to Fedor, so McGee will replace Tristan Thompson on the roster. Cleveland continues to explore possible free agent deals involving the mid-level, with a focus on backup point guard, per Fedor.

Luke Adams contributed to this story. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Re-Sign Markieff Morris

2:37pm: The Lakers have officially re-signed Morris, the team confirmed (Twitter link via Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group).


11:29am: Free agent forward Markieff Morris is sticking with the Lakers, announcing (via Twitter) his intentions to “run it back” with the defending champions. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links), Morris is signing a one-year, minimum-salary contract with the club.

Morris was said to be receiving interest from both Los Angeles teams and was reportedly considering reuniting with his twin brother Marcus Morris on the Clippers. The Raptors were also said to have interest before they agreed to a deal with Aron Baynes.

Although the Clippers had the financial flexibility to make Markieff a slightly more lucrative offer, it’s not clear if he took less to remain with the Lakers, or if the Clips were also offering the minimum.

After starting last season in Detroit, Morris was bought out and joined the Lakers for the stretch run. He played a limited role (14.2 minutes per game) in 14 regular season contests for the club, but actually saw his playing time increase to 18.3 MPG in the postseason.

He appeared in all 21 of the Lakers’ playoff games en route to their championship, averaging 5.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG with a .449/.420/.778 shooting line.

With a commitment from Morris in place, the Lakers now project to be about $4.5MM below their hard cap with 12 players on the roster, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who tweets that the team should be on track to add two more minimum-salary players to the mix. Marks’ projection assumes the team keeps Alfonzo McKinnie after acquiring him from Cleveland and waives Jordan Bell.

By virtue of re-signing with the Lakers on a one-year deal, Morris will have the ability to veto any trade that involves him in 2020/21, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers, Clippers Remain In Mix For Markieff Morris

Free agent forward Markieff Morris, one of the few players on our top-50 list who has yet to agree to a new deal, continues to draw interest from both Los Angeles teams, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who tweets that both the Lakers and Clippers are trying to sign Morris.

The Lakers have had interest in re-signing Morris throughout free agency, and the Clippers’ interest in reuniting Markieff with his brother Marcus Morris was reported on Sunday. Stein also reported on Sunday that the Raptors also had interest in Markieff, but says that Toronto is likely out of the running as a viable option after agreeing to sign Aron Baynes.

The Clippers have a little more cap flexibility to make a stronger offer to Morris, as they still have their $3.62MM bi-annual exception available. The Lakers could offer up to about $2.8MM using Morris’ Non-Bird rights, assuming they’re comfortable squeezing that deal below their hard cap. A minimum-salary offer from either team would pay Morris about $2.33MM.

After starting last season in Detroit, Morris was bought out and joined the Lakers for the stretch run. He played a limited role (14.2 minutes per game) in 14 regular season contests for the club, but actually saw his playing time increase to 18.3 MPG in the postseason. He appeared in all 21 of the Lakers’ playoff games en route to their championship, averaging 5.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG with a .449/.420/.778 shooting line

Free Agency Rumors: Markieff Morris, Craig, Bazemore, Sixers

A Morris brothers reunion might be in play for the Clippers, Jason Dumas of KRON4 News tweets. Dumas notes that there may be mutual interest in adding free agent forward Markieff Morris – most recently of the Lakers – to a Clippers frontcourt that includes newly re-signed forward Marcus Morris, Markieff’s twin brother. Marcus has agreed to a four-year, $64MM deal to remain with the Clippers.

Markieff’s minutes may be relatively minimal, as he would presumably be the fourth big man in the Clippers’ frontcourt rotation, behind starting power forward Marcus, starting center Ivica Zubac, and just-added veteran power forward/center Serge Ibaka, who will be signed using the club’s full MLE after the departure of Montrezl Harrell to the Lakers. Big man Patrick Patterson was also retained by the Clippers this offseason.

Marcus was a key role-playing piece in the Lakers’ championship run after joining the team off waivers this spring. In 18.4 MPG, Markieff averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG, while shooting a stellar 42% on 3.3 three-point attempts per game and 77.8% from the charity stripe across 21 games en route to the Lakers’ 17th NBA title.

Meanwhile, if Marc Gasol ultimately leaves the Raptors for the Lakers, Toronto has strong interest in replacing him with Markieff Morris, and may be able to offer him more than the Clippers can afford.

Here are more free agency rumors:

  • Darren Wolfson of KSTP 5 Eyewitness News tweets that the Timberwolves also considered adding free agent guard Torrey Craig to their offseason roster. Craig ultimately agreed to a contract with the Bucks this offseason, the terms of which have yet to be released.
  • Though Kent Bazemore wound up returning to the Warriors and his close friend Stephen Curry on a veteran’s minimum contract, the Clippers apparently considered using their $3.6MM bi-annual exception to sign the veteran swingman, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
  • Though Sixers GM Daryl Morey has already made significant changes to Philadelphia, the club still needs a great perimeter scorer, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes. “Obviously, our job is to always look for opportunities,” Morey commented this weekend. “But we feel very good about where we are right now.” Pompey notes that in Ben Simmons, the Sixers have the kind of All-Star blue chip piece that could fit well into a deal for Rockets superstar perimeter scorer James Harden.

Marc Gasol Narrowing Focus To Lakers, Raptors

Free agent center Marc Gasol is narrowing his focus to the Lakers and Raptors, according to Shams Charnia of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Warriors were among the teams also expressing interest in Gasol, but it sounds as if they’re no longer in the mix. The Mavericks also aren’t considered a probable destination anymore, Charania adds, noting that Dallas had been in the running up until now (Twitter link).

The Raptors hold Gasol’s Bird rights and are well positioned to offer him a lucrative one-year deal for 2020/21. Toronto should be especially motivated to bring back its starting center, having lost Serge Ibaka to the Clippers. If both Gasol and Ibaka depart, 2019 second-rounder Dewan Hernandez would be the only center under contract for the Raptors, since their other big man – Chris Boucher – is a restricted free agent.

While the Raptors can offer Gasol more money for next season, the Lakers are working the marketplace to try to find a way to improve their offer, per Charania. For the time being, they’d be limited to the veteran’s minimum, since they’ve already signed Wesley Matthews using the bi-annual exception and intend to use the full mid-level exception to Montrezl Harrell.

If the Lakers can shed some salary – and if the Raptors or Clippers are willing to cooperate – a sign-and-trade deal for either Gasol or Harrell could help keep the MLE open for the other. Los Angeles is exploring trading away JaVale McGee and his $4.2MM cap hit, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Should the Lakers snatch Gasol away from Toronto, the Raptors may shift their attention to a Lakers free agent, according to Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that Toronto has “strong interest” in forward Markieff Morris.

And-Ones: Morris Twins, Expansion, J. Grant, Hampton

Almost exactly a year ago, the Morris twins – Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris – changed agencies, signing with Roc Nation Sports for representation. However, with the two veteran forwards on the verge of free agency, Roc Nation won’t be the agency repping them this fall.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Morris twins have signed with agent Chafie Fields of Wasserman for representation. Fields is one of a small handful of agents who represents both NFL and NBA clients.

It’s not necessarily the best offseason to be reaching free agency, as few teams around the NBA will have cap room available, but the Morris twins should do pretty well on the open market. Marcus is coming off a productive season with the Knicks and Clippers, while Markieff played a role in helping the Lakers win a title last month.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • One sports business expert who spoke to Jabari Young of CNBC predicted that the NBA may revisit the idea of expansion in the coming years in an effort to offset the financial losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “Seattle and Las Vegas are by far the two most likely markets for various reasons,” said Patrick Rishe, the director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis. “Today, if it was two teams, you’re talking over $1 billion that would be shared, and those two new expansion teams will not get their share of media revenues at the beginning.”
  • Using his new metric BORD$, John Hollinger of The Athletic evaluated the values of this year’s free agent small forwards and power forwards. Unsurprisingly, Brandon Ingram and Anthony Davis grade out as the top forwards. Derrick Jones, Jabari Parker, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are among the players rated highly by Hollinger’s formula, while Nuggets forward Jerami Grant is dubbed by Hollinger to be “probably the most overrated player” on this year’s free agent market.
  • In a conversation with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, draft prospect RJ Hampton discussed spending last year in New Zealand, his preparation for the 2020 draft, and why he’s modeling his offensive game after Zach LaVine.

Five Non-Bird Free Agents Who May Be Difficult To Re-Sign

Every player who finishes a season as a member of an NBA roster gets some form of Bird rights as a free agent, allowing his team to go over the cap to re-sign him. However, a player who spent just one year with his club typically only has Non-Bird rights, which are the weakest form of Bird rights, as their oxymoronic name suggests.

With the Non-Bird exception, a team can re-sign a player for up to four years and give him a raise, but that raise has to be a modest one. Non-Bird rights allow for a starting salary worth up to 120% of the player’s previous salary or 120% of the minimum salary, whichever is greater.

In other words, a Non-Bird free agent who earned $5MM can only get a starting salary worth up to $6MM on his new deal unless his team uses cap room or another exception (such as the mid-level) to bring him back.

This cap restriction will apply specifically to a handful of players around the NBA who may be in line for raises this summer. Because these players will be Non-Bird free agents, it may be a challenge for their teams to re-sign them without cap room or an exception like the bi-annual or mid-level.

Let’s take a closer look at five players who will fall into this category this offseason…


Markieff Morris, F, Lakers
Dwight Howard, C, Lakers

During their run to the NBA Finals, the Lakers have matched up with talented opposing centers such as Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, and Bam Adebayo, while also facing a Rockets team that doesn’t use a traditional center. Anthony Davis has, of course, been the most important factor in the Lakers winning those frontcourt battles, but Morris and Howard have played major roles as well, proving their value as role players on a championship-caliber team.

Morris signed a $1.75MM contract during the season, while Howard’s one-year deal is worth the veteran’s minimum, so neither player can sign for more than 120% of the minimum if the over-the-cap Lakers hope to use their Non-Bird rights. If the cap doesn’t increase, that would mean a max of $2.8MM for Morris and $3.08MM for Howard.

My assumption is that both players would be able to do better than that on the open market. So if they’re not willing to accept team-friendly discounts to remain in Los Angeles, the Lakers may have to dip into their mid-level exception (projected to be worth $9.26MM) to try to re-sign one or both players.

Carmelo Anthony, F, Trail Blazers

Anthony’s NBA career appeared to be on the verge of ending before he worked out a minimum-salary deal with Portland. He outperformed that modest contract, with 15.4 PPG and 6.3 RPG on .430/.385/.845 shooting in 58 games (all starts) for the Trail Blazers in 2019/20.

Like Howard, Anthony would be limited to a ’20/21 salary of $3.08MM via his Non-Bird rights. If the Blazers need to go higher than that to retain him, they’ll have to repeat a move they used last summer, when they re-signed Non-Bird free agent Rodney Hood with their taxpayer mid-level exception in order to give him a raise.

Jeff Green, F, Rockets

Green was underwhelming during his brief stint with Utah early in the 2019/20 season, but he thrived in Houston, averaging 12.2 PPG on .564/.354/.857 shooting in 18 games (22.6 MPG) as part of the club’s micro-ball lineup. He was nearly as good in the postseason, with 11.6 PPG on .495/.426/.824 shooting in an increased role (28.6 MPG).

Green hasn’t signed a contract worth more than the minimum since 2016, so it’s possible that’s all it will take for Houston or another team to sign him this fall. That’d be a best-case scenario for the Rockets, given how well he fit in their system down the stretch — topping any rival offer exceeding $3.08MM would mean dipping into the mid-level or bi-annual.

Reggie Jackson, G, Clippers

Like most players on the buyout market, Jackson signed a minimum-salary contract with the Clippers to finish out the season, meaning the team will be limited to an offer starting at about $2.8MM.

Jackson was pretty good for the Clippers in 17 regular season games, knocking down 41.3% of his three-point attempts and chipping in 9.5 PPG and 3.2 APG. But he fell out of the rotation in the second round of the playoffs vs. Denver, and the Clippers will likely be looking to upgrade the point guard position this fall. A reunion probably doesn’t make sense for either side, especially if Jackson can get offers exceeding the Non-Bird limit.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: Key Signings, KCP, Pelinka, Davis

Four of the Lakers‘ low-cost signings within the last year have been crucial in helping bring the team to within one win of a championship, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

As Slater details, the combined 2019/20 cap hits for Alex Caruso ($2.75MM), Rajon Rondo ($2.56MM), Markieff Morris ($1.75MM), and Dwight Howard ($1.62MM) total just $8.69MM, but those four players have become extremely important parts of the Lakers’ rotation, especially in the postseason.

Rondo’s return from a broken thumb has helped lessen the need for the Lakers to experiment with backups like Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith, while Morris’ ability to play center in small-ball lineups has come in handy multiple times in the playoffs, particularly against Houston. Howard had his best moments against Denver as a Nikola Jokic irritant, according to Slater, who adds that Caruso has been a steady, reliable contributor through the postseason.

Caruso is under contract for $2.75MM next season as well, but the other three vets will have the opportunity to reach free agency — their strong playoff showings could put them in line for raises.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hasn’t always been a fan favorite in Los Angeles during the last three seasons, but he’s coming up big for the team in the postseason, writes Jordan Greer of Sporting News. Caldwell-Pope, who has knocked down 38.5% of his three-pointers in the playoffs, made some big shots down the stretch in Game 4 to help seal the Lakers’ win. He has a $8.49MM player option for 2020/21.
  • A championship would be vindication for Lakers head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka, who took the reins following Magic Johnson‘s abrupt resignation last spring, then negotiated a trade for Anthony Davis, came up short in his pursuit of Kawhi Leonard, and had to quickly fill out the roster around his stars six days into free agency. Sam Amick of The Athletic has the story on Pelinka’s “let-it-all-out moment” near the end of Game 4.
  • The role of franchise savior never quite fit Anthony Davis in New Orleans, according to Justin Verrier of The Ringer, who writes that the former No. 1 overall pick has been at his best and is reaching his full potential alongside another superstar in LeBron James.

Pacific Notes: Morris, Warriors, Atkinson, McNair

Forward Markieff Morris showed his value with a 19-point, six-rebound outing in Game 3 of the Finals, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. Morris, who signed with the Lakers after reaching a buyout agreement with the Pistons in February, kept his team in the game with Anthony Davis battling foul issues. Morris, who gave up a $3.3MM player option to join a contender, will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors‘ mini-camp reinforced the belief that the current roster is undersized and lacking in athleticism, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The need a big center, whether they use their lottery pick on James Wiseman or acquire a veteran. They also need more length, physicality and rim protection on the wing, Slater adds.
  • Santa Cruz GM Ryan Atkinson has become a key component of the Warriors front office chain, according to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. His ability to discover overlooked talent has allowed Golden State to build a strong bench, with Juan Toscano-AndersonMychal MulderRoger Moute a Bidias, Ryan Taylor and Jonathon Simmons among his finds.
  • Next season will be chance to evaluate and sort out who fits into new GM Monte McNair’s vision for the Kings, Jason Jones of The Athletic opines. Some veterans with reasonable contracts could being dealt in order to acquire future assets, Jones adds.