Markieff Morris

Heat Notes: Tucker, Morris, Yurtseven, Lowry, Battier

New Heat power forwards P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris believe they’re ideal fits on a team known for its work ethic and strong veteran culture, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Tucker called it a “match made in heaven,” while Morris said he had a strong sense that he’d eventually end up playing for the Heat.

“(We’re) going to bring toughness and will and dog (mentality), which they already have,” Morris said of the impact that he and Tucker can have in Miami. “We’re just adding to it. Me and Tuck played together a couple years in Phoenix; he’s one of my good friends. We’re both (NBA) champions.”

Here’s more on the Heat:
  • Young center Omer Yurtseven is receiving on-court mentoring from former Heat big man Alonzo Mourning, who is the team’s VP of player programs and development, Jackson writes for The Miami Herald. “He comes in and watches me play and gives me words of wisdom,” Yurtseven said. “It’s really helpful. He dominated his time. I hope to do the same.”
  • New Heat point guard Kyle Lowry joked during his Media Day presser that his good friend Jimmy Butler is “a little bit more crazy” than the stars he has played alongside in the past, as Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald relay. “He wears his emotions on his sleeves,” Lowry said. “(DeMar DeRozan) and Kawhi (Leonard) are very quiet. (Jimmy) makes sure everyone knows there’s no (messing) around. You appreciate players like that.”
  • Head coach Erik Spoelstra is eager to see how the Heat’s new pieces fit together after adding Lowry, Tucker, and Morris to the roster this offseason, per Jackson and Chiang. “I’m just as curious to see as anyone how this all works together,” Spoelstra said. “We checked some boxes of things we wanted to accomplish from a personnel standpoint. We acquired some like-minded people.”
  • Shane Battier stepped down from his front office position with the Heat (VP of basketball development and analytics) earlier this year, but he’s still with the team in a less formal capacity, according to Chiang. Battier is now a strategic consultant for the club and was among the executives in attendance at Miami’s first practice on Tuesday.

Heat Notes: Lowry, Power Forwards, Martin, Camp Questions

New Heat starting point guard Kyle Lowry is looking forward to building an on-court relationship with incumbent stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Lowry, a six-time All-Star and 2019 title winner with the Raptors, inked a three-year, $85MM contract with Miami in a sign-and-trade deal this summer. Butler and Lowry have been friends since winning a Gold medal together for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics. Lowry is the godfather to Butler’s daughter.

“Having that common interest in the love of the game and how hard we work and how much we want to win, that was the first thing of us being on the same page,” Lowry explained of the origins of his relationship with the All-NBA swingman.

Lowry also expressed excitement about what Adebayo brings to the floor. “Bam can handle the ball,” Lowry raved. “He can make plays, super athletic. He’s high energy. He’s competitive.” Lowry expects that his own facilitating abilities will benefit the big man. The 35-year-old hopes that he can help Adebayo “be in better spots” and get “easier looks, layups and dunks.”

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • Questions remain about how much three-point shooting the Heat will be able to get out of their power forward corps, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The team’s two new power forward additions, recent champions P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, have seen their long-range output dip recently. Tucker, 36, is a career 35.9% shooter, but his shooting fell to 32.2% from deep during the Bucks’ 2021 playoff run. Morris connected on 38.6% of his 3.9 triples per game with the Pistons and Lakers during the 2019/20 season, but saw that number fall to 31.1% in 2020/21. KZ Okpala and re-signed big man Dewayne Dedmon could also see time at the power forward position alongside starting Adebayo in Miami’s frontcourt, though both have been unreliable from long range. Dedmon had two seasons with the Hawks, in 2017/18 and 2018/19, in which he averaged 35.5% or better on a decent volume of three point attempts, but has not connected on more than 21% of his threes in a single season since. Seven-footer Omer Yurtseven, meanwhile, is a solid three-point shooter, but Jackson wonders if the Heat will trust him enough to give him meaningful minutes in their rotation.
  • With training camp just around the corner, new two-way player Caleb Martin will do his darnedest to prove his mettle as a candidate for legitimate Heat roster minutes, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel“At the end of the day, regardless if I’m on a two-way or if I was on an Exhibit 10, it doesn’t matter,” Martin said. “I’m just coming into training camp to try to play the best basketball I can and contribute any way I can and impact enough in a way to where I earn minutes.”
  • The Heat are figuring out rotational questions for the fringes of their roster ahead of training camp, says Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Winderman notes that, in the absence of Kendrick Nunn (now with the Lakers) and Goran Dragic (traded to the Raptors as part of the Lowry deal), Gabe Vincent looks like he will begin the season as the Heat’s prime backup point guard. 6’5″ backup shooting guard Tyler Herro could see an uptick in ball handling duties. The rotational fate of forward Okpala, on the last season of a three-year deal, could be figured out in the club’s preseason. Winderman anticipates that Micah Potter, Javonte Smart, Dru Smith and D.J. Stewart will have plenty to prove in the preseason, though they will most likely spend the majority of the 2021/22 season with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Each player will hope to intrigue the Heat enough in training camp to encourage a call-up to Miami during the season.

Heat Notes: Morris, Foran, Fodor, Bradley

New Heat forward Markieff Morris, who is set to play for his fifth different team since the start of the 2018/19 season, tells Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel that he hadn’t really been expecting to have to find a new home this offseason.

“For sure, I thought I was going back to the Lakers,” Morris said. “But, sometimes I’m not in teams’ plans and that’s how it works sometimes.

“… It’s been difficult, because my first two teams I was with nine years. And then the last two I’ve been with four teams. Sometime it can be the money. Sometime it can be the fits. I enjoyed all those places, but sometimes that’s how it goes in the NBA. You’ve just got to keep pushing forward.”

Morris added that he’s looking forward to playing whatever role is asked of him with his new club.

“You ask me to score, I’ll score. You ask me to defend, I’ll defend. You ask me to rebound and set the tone, that’s what I’ll do also,” he said.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • A pair of veteran Heat staffers won’t be around the team this year, reports Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. According to Jackson, longtime strength and conditioning coach Bill Foran is retiring after spending more than three decades with the franchise, while shooting coach Rob Fodor will still be part of the organization, but will assist players remotely – via Zoom sessions and phone calls – since he wants to live in a different part of the country.
  • Avery Bradley was “very much” open to returning to the Heat this summer after signing with the team last offseason, but Miami wasn’t interested in a reunion at this time, according to Jackson (Twitter link). Bradley, who is still a free agent, was scheduled to work out this week for Golden State.
  • In case you missed it, we relayed some minor details on some of the Heat’s newest contracts earlier today.

Heat Sign P.J. Tucker

AUGUST 7: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

“P.J. Tucker is the perfect addition to this team,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “He brings both shooting and most importantly, the ability to defend a lot of perimeter players. We love his versatility in order to put a defensive team on the court, where all five guys can defend, while also having enough shooting and scoring to win games.”

AUGUST 2: The Heat have agreed to a deal with free agent forward P.J. Tucker, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania (Twitter link), Tucker will get a two-year, $15MM contract from Miami, which suggests the team is putting a chunk of its mid-level exception toward the signing. The deal will feature a player option in year two, Charania adds (via Twitter).

Tucker doesn’t bring much to the table on offense besides the occasional corner three (he’s a career 35.9% shooter from beyond the arc), but he’s a physical, versatile defender who is just as willing to battle in the post with centers as he is to guard quicker guards and wings on the perimeter.

Tucker will fit in nicely on a Heat squad that already features tough defenders like Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Kyle Lowry.

The Heat had been looking to address their power forward position with their mid-level exception and will likely remain on the lookout for at least one more player who can play minutes at the four, though their cap flexibility is now limited. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that the club has an offer out to veteran forward Markieff Morris.

Markieff Morris Signs With Heat

AUGUST 6: The Heat’s flurry of Friday press releases continued with an announcement of Morris’ new deal with the team.

“Markieff Morris has been a player that we’ve followed closely for a number of years,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “He can play multiple positions, shoot the three, defend and post-up. To be able to add him to our nucleus was a big move. I want to thank Markieff for coming to Miami.”

AUGUST 3: Veteran forward Markieff Morris has agreed to a one-year deal with the Heat, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). It’ll be worth the veteran’s minimum, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

A report on Monday indicated that the Heat had made a contract offer to Morris. A day later, he has accepted it, becoming the latest free agent to make a commitment to Miami this week.

The Heat have focused on adding tough, savvy veterans, having reached deals with Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker in addition to Morris. The club also reached an agreement to re-sign sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and is bringing back center Dewayne Dedmon.

Morris, who figures to share minutes with Tucker at the four, spent the last two seasons with the Lakers, playing a rotation role on the championship roster in 2020. This past season, he averaged 6.7 PPG and 4.4 RPG on 4.05/.311/.720 shooting in 61 games (19.7 MPG). He’s typically a slightly more reliable three-point shooter, having made 34.5% of his career attempts prior to 2020/21.

The Heat still have some of their mid-level exception and their full bi-annual exception available, but they don’t have a ton of breathing room below their hard cap to fill out the roster, so they may prefer minimum-salary signings.

Lakers Notes: Davis, LeBron, Schröder, Free Agents

Although Lakers big man Anthony Davis was cleared to return for Game 6 vs. Phoenix, he clearly wasn’t himself on Thursday night, leaving the game for good midway through the first quarter due to his strained groin. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Davis’ injury didn’t get any worse on Thursday, but his pain intensified whenever his mobility was tested.

It never really felt good, but the competitive nature in me wanted to go out there and help the team as best as I could,” Davis said following the loss that ended the Lakers’ season (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today). “My body didn’t agree.”

The Lakers’ loss on Thursday ended a season of “what ifs” for the franchise, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic. After flying out of the gates to a 21-6 start, the team dealt with lengthy injury absences to its two stars (Davis and LeBron James), while other key players were affected by COVID-19 (Marc Gasol and Dennis Schröder). Los Angeles never regained its early-season momentum. After winning 21 of its first 27 games, the club won just 21 of its next 45 to finish the regular season, then was eliminated in short order in the playoffs.

It was the first time in LeBron’s 18-year career that he has been knocked out in the first round of the postseason, and while the four-time MVP was disappointed with the loss, he’s looking forward to taking full advantage of a longer offseason. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), James suggested after Thursday’s game that he won’t participate in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Dennis Schröder reportedly turned down a four-year extension worth over $80MM earlier this year, but he said on Thursday that his desire to remain with the Lakers remains strong and is “not even a question,” as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times details. “It wasn’t about money, because everybody who knows me, it’s not about money either,” he said. “Of course, you want to be fair. But at the end of the day, not everything is about money — for me and my family. At the end of the day, if everything is good, we gonna come back and win a championship next year.”
  • Sources tell Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that some people in the organization were frustrated by Schröder’s play on the court this season, prompting the team to include him in trade talks for Kyle Lowry at March’s deadline.
  • The Lakers will have to determine which players are their top priorities in free agency, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), who notes that Schröder is just one of several rotation players up for a new contract. Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Andre Drummond, and Markieff Morris are among those headed for unrestricted free agency, and Montrezl Harrell could join them by declining his $9.7MM player option.
  • The Lakers need to upgrade their supporting cast around LeBron James and Anthony Davis this offseason, but don’t have a ton of tools at their disposal to do so, says John Hollinger of The Athletic. The club projects to be over the cap and has already traded multiple future first-round picks.
  • Asked after Thursday’s loss about his history of injuries, Davis replied, “I don’t need to prove anything to anyone that’s outside this Lakers organization,” per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. However, Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times argues that Davis’ health and James’ age are growing concerns for the franchise.

Anthony Davis Won’t Play In Game 5

Lakers star Anthony Davis has been officially ruled out for Game 5 of the team’s first-round series against the Suns, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. Markieff Morris will start in his place.

Davis suffered a left groin strain in Game 4 on Sunday and was considered doubtful. He did come out onto the court on two occasions to test the injury but the club’s medical staff ultimately decided he wasn’t ready to go.

The Lakers and Suns are tied at 2-2 in their first-round series, and Davis averaged 34.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in the team’s two wins in Game 2 and 3.

Morris has only played 12 minutes in the series and hasn’t made a field goal. He averaged 5.9 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 21 postseason games, including two starts, for the Lakers during their championship run last season.

Pacific Notes: Morris Twins, Fox, KCP, CP3

Lakers power forward Markieff Morris and his twin brother, Clippers power forward Marcus Morris, are hoping to meet in the playoffs in a Western Conference Finals for the ages, writes J. Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times. Marcus’ club is currently down 2-1 to the ascendant, lower-seeded Mavericks. Markieff’s Los Angeles team, the 2020 champion, is up 2-1 against the higher-seeded Suns.

“That matchup wasn’t supposed to happen in the bubble,” Marcus said of the Lakers-Clippers all-Staples Center showdown that fans were denied in the Orlando restart season “bubble” in 2020. “That was supposed to happen in Staples Center.”

McCollough reveals that the Morris brothers and their families live just 10 minutes apart on the west side of Los Angeles County (near their clubs’ practice facilities), with Markieff in Playa del Rey and Marcus in nearby Manhattan Beach.

“[W]e know the importance of having your family around for your success in life, just having that backbone and that stability,” Marcus said. “Being in the same city has been amazing.”

How long the brothers will remain in the same city remains to be seen. Markieff inked a one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Lakers for this season and has remained a valuable stretch-four option off the bench for L.A. Clippers starter Marcus signed a four-year, $64MM extension ahead of the 2020/21 season, though McCollough acknowledges that the Clips may make roster changes if the team continues to underperform in the postseason.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Recently-extended Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox exhibited significant growth in his play and leadership, even amidst an otherwise-disappointing Sacramento season, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area“Just trying to get to that level of consistency, where night in and night out you’re playing really good and if you’re not playing great, you’re still playing really good basketball and I don’t think I was there just yet,” Fox said. He averaged a career-best 25.2 PPG, to go along with 7.2 APG, 3.5 RPG and 1.5 SPG. Ham observes that Fox’s driving ability and his stroke on jumpers from 10-16 feet away from the bucket are high-level, though the rest of his shot chart is a bit more erratic.
  • Lakers starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been ruled out for this afternoon’s Game 4 matchup against the Suns due to a left knee contusion, tweets Mark Medina of USA Today. Veteran Wesley Matthews would make the most positional sense as a replacement starter, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Lakers All-Star power forward/center Anthony Davis, however, will be suiting up today as he plays through a knee injury, tweets Marc Stein of the New York Times.
  • Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul remains a game-time decision for today’s pivotal Game 4 against the Lakers, tweets Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Paul has been battling a shoulder injury since Game 1. The Suns are currently down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Paul’s output has taken a turn with reduced minutes since the injury. He is averaging 6.7 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.0 RPG for the series.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Drummond, Gasol, LeBron

Anthony Davis‘ subpar game in the Lakers’ playoff opener may be linked to a lineup problem, suggests Zach Kram of The Ringer. Davis is known to be more comfortable at power forward than center, but playing alongside Andre Drummond is making him less effective, according to Kram.

Davis managed just 13 points in the Game 1 loss and shot 31% from the field, his career low for a playoff game. Kram notes that Davis played more than half his minutes at center in last year’s postseason and has been more productive at that position this season because it enables to get better shots.

The numbers since Drummond signed with the Lakers in late March are particularly bad, Kram adds. Starting lineups with Davis and Drummond were outscored by 3.5 points per 100 possessions during the regular season. Drummond’s presence forces Davis farther away from the basket, leaving him with midrange shots, where he is less efficient. Kram points out that the Suns were able to exploit spacing issues when Drummond was on the court in Game 1.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Bill Oram of The Athletic also examines L.A.’s frontcourt situation and states that backup center Montrezl Harrell presents the same issues as Drummond. Marc Gasol, who was signed during the offseason to be a floor-spacing center, didn’t play in Game 1 and neither did Markieff Morris, who solved a similar problem against the Rockets in last year’s playoffs. “I think with the lineups, with the big lineup, we just didn’t have enough time to work on it (during the regular season),” Drummond said. “So it’s something we’re just kind of throwing out there with little time and little experience. I think we’re doing a good job of figuring it out on the fly.”
  • LeBron James is obviously feeling the effects of his high-ankle sprain, writes Ethan Strauss of The Athletic, who contends the Suns should probably be considered favorites to win the series. Strauss points out that James hasn’t dunked since re-aggravating the ankle in the third quarter of the regular season finale.
  • The NBA has issued a statement (via Twitter) explaining why James didn’t have to quarantine after violating health and safety protocols this week. The league determined that James’ appearance an event promoting his tequila brand “did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19 and therefore no quarantine was necessary.”

Western Notes: Morris, Drummond, Jones, Toscano-Anderson

Markieff Morris has served as an unsung hero for the Lakers in the absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes.

Morris, 31, has given Los Angeles a steady level of production in his 10th NBA season. In 49 games with the team (25 starts), the veteran has averaged 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 20.5 minutes per contest, shooting 44% from the floor and 35% from deep.

“I mean, (expletive), look at my production throughout my career,” Morris said. “I would think they would know I could be this consistent. Everybody’s trying to judge you off of how the season starts, but the tide always turns.”

As Goon notes, Morris has reached double-digit scoring in 10 of his last 13 games. The Kansas alum is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:

  • Another player who’s produced for the Lakers is Andre Drummond, Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times writes. Drummond has averaged 16.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 27.9 minutes in six games since joining the Lakers, performing at a high level as the team’s starting center.
  • Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones earned a $817K bonus after the team beat Milwaukee 128-115 on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Jones had an incentive in his contract for 33 wins, but the total was prorated down to 29 due to the shortened season. Memphis currently holds the eighth-best record in the Western Conference at 29-26.
  • Warriors guard Juan Toscano-Anderson has been diagnosed with a concussion, Mark Medina of USA TODAY tweets. Toscano-Anderson suffered a brutal fall in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Boston and left the contest early. As a result, he’s now in the league’s concussion protocol.