Darius Morris

Former NBA Guard Darius Morris Passes Away

Former NBA guard Darius Morris, who played in the league from 2011-15, has passed away at age 33, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 41st overall pick in the 2011 draft, Morris began his professional career with the Lakers after playing his college ball at Michigan.

The Los Angeles native appeared in 67 regular season games for the Lakers over the next two seasons, averaging 3.6 points, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per contest. He made a pair of starts and averaged 26.3 MPG during the team’s first-round playoff series in 2013, a four-game sweep at the hands of the Spurs.

After his contract with the Lakers expired, Morris spent time with the Sixers, Clippers, and Grizzlies during the 2013/14 season, then made 38 appearances with the Nets in ’14/15. That was his last season in the NBA, though he was invited to the Pelicans’ training camp in 2018 and spent several more years competing in the G League and various international leagues in China, Russia, and France. He last played in 2020.

Our condolences go out to Morris’ friends and family.

International Notes: Stokes, Morris, Mourning, Senegal

Power forward Jarnell Stokes has decided to remain in China for a third consecutive season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Stokes will sign a $1.9MM contract with Xinjiang. Stokes has appeared in 28 NBA games for the Grizzlies, Heat, and Nuggets. He played five games with the Trail Blazers in the Las Vegas Summer League last month and averaged 10.6 PPG and 6.4 RPG.

We have more news from around the basketball globe:

  • Guard Darius Morris has officially signed with Russia’s Enisey Krasnoyarsk, Carchia reports. Morris played in the G League last season with the Santa Cruz Warriors, averaging 15.2 PPG and 6.1 APG. The former Lakers and Nets guard has appeared in 132 total NBA games after being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft but the 2014/15 season was his last in the league.
  • Trey Mourning, son of former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, will play for Russia’s Runa Basket, Carchia adds in another post. The former Georgetown forward, who went undrafted this June, averaged 9.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG in four games for the Heat in summer league action last month.
  • Former NBA players Hamady Ndiaye and Maurice Ndour are among the players on Senegal’s World Cup roster, according to a FIBA press release. Ndiaye, a center, was a Timberwolves’ 2010 second-round pick and appeared in 33 NBA games. Ndour, a small forward, played 32 games for the Knicks during the 2016/17 season.

International Notes: Morris, Melli, Delgado

Former Lakers and Nets guard Darius Morris was in camp with the Pelicans last fall and generated some in-season interest from the Suns, but 2018/19 represented his fourth straight season out of the NBA. It appears that streak will continue in 2019/20, as a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando that Morris has signed a “lucrative” contract with Enisey Krasnoyarsk in Russia.

Morris, who appeared in 132 total NBA games after being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, is still just 28 years old, as so an eventual NBA comeback is possible. For now though, he’ll continue his professional career in Russia after spending his last few seasons in China and the G League.

Here are a few more basketball odds and ends from around the globe:

  • Nicolo Melli, who signed with the Pelicans this summer as a free agent, won’t play for Team Italy in the 2019 World Cup due to a knee injury, the Italian Basketball Federation confirmed today in a press release. As far as we know, Melli is still expected to be ready to go for training camp with New Orleans this fall.
  • Former Clippers big man Angel Delgado, who signed a lucrative one-year contract with the Beijing Royal Fighters, spoke to Jerry Carino of Asbury Park Press about making the move to the Chinese Basketball Association. “I had opportunities to stay in the NBA, but I’m doing what’s best for me,” Delgado said. “I’m excited about the experience I’m going to get in the CBA, and the people I’m going to get in touch with out there. I’m really excited and really motivated to give everyone a show every night. I want to give them what they want — a championship.”
  • Previously-reported international deals for Alan Williams (in Russia) and Omri Casspi (in Israel) are now official, with Lokomotiv Kuban and Maccabi Tel Aviv formally announcing the signings today.

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

Suns Continue Search For Short-Term PG Solution

The Suns remain in the market for a short-term solution at their point guard position, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has been eyeing potential trade targets, free agents, and candidates for call-ups from the G League.

Darius Morris is among the players to receive interest from the Suns, with Wojnarowski reporting that the former Lakers point guard visited Phoenix early this week. Morris, who appeared in 132 total games for the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nets from 2011-15, hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular season game in more than three years, though he was in camp with the Pelicans in the fall.

Morris is currently playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G League affiliate, where he has put up 19.5 PPG and 6.7 APG with a .412/.355/.683 shooting line in 11 games so far this season.

The Suns have tried a handful of different players at the point in 2018/19. Isaiah Canaan earned most of the minutes there in the early going before being waived last Wednesday. Rookies Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton have each seen some action at the point, but may not be ready for major roles yet. Recently, Phoenix handed the play-making reins to Devin Booker, but a hamstring injury is currently keeping the team’s star guard on the shelf.

After releasing Canaan, the Suns have two open spots on their 15-man roster and have until next Wednesday to fill at least one of them, as we explained yesterday. It remains unclear which player will become the club’s 14th man, but it seems safe to assume it’ll probably be a point guard.

Pelicans Waive Brandon McCoy, Darius Morris

The Pelicans have waived center Brandon McCoy and point guard Darius Morris, the team’s PR department tweets.

New Orleans is now down to 18 players on the training camp roster, including two-way player Trevon Bluiett.

Both appeared in three preseason games. McCoy was waived by the Bucks last month, then signed with the Pelicans on September 29th. He was undrafted out of Nevada-Las Vegas this summer. The 7-foot-1 McCoy averaged 16.9 PPG and 10.3 RPG for UNLV last season.

Morris signed a non-guaranteed two-year deal in early September.

Morris, a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA draft, spent four seasons playing for the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nets after entering the league. In 132 total regular season contests, he averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.4 APG but hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since 2015. Since then, Morris had played in the G League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

With the Pelicans subtracting Morris, Jarrett Jack‘s chances of making the roster have seemingly increased.

Pelicans Notes: Okafor, Roster Decisions, Payton

The Pelicans only have 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, leaving three potential openings on their 15-man regular season roster. However, it sounds like one of those three spots has already been claimed. According to Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link), Jahlil Okafor is a virtual lock to end up on the 15-man squad.

Okafor, who joined the Pelicans this summer after stints in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, injured his ankle last week, but head coach Alvin Gentry suggested that the ailment wouldn’t prevent him from making New Orleans’ roster. Kushner cautions that it’s not quite a done deal yet, but Okafor’s spot appears safe for now.

Here’s more from out of New Orleans:

Pelicans Sign Darius Morris

4:25pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

9:51am: The Pelicans are continuing their efforts to add depth at the point guard position, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that veteran free agent Darius Morris is signing with New Orleans. Morris will receive a partially guaranteed two-year deal, per Charania. It’ll be worth the minimum.

News of the Pelicans’ agreement with Morris comes a day after word broke that the club is signing two-way restricted free agent Tyrone Wallace to an offer sheet. New Orleans has two openings on its 20-man offseason roster, so the team could add both Wallace and Morris and let them battle it out for a regular season roster spot. Morris could also be an insurance policy in case the Clippers match the Pelicans’ offer sheet for Wallace.

Morris, a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA draft, spent four seasons playing for the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Nets after entering the league. In 132 total regular season contests (11.1 MPG), the 27-year-old averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.4 APG, last appearing in an NBA game in 2015. Since then, Morris has played in the G League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

Like Wallace, Morris was one of a handful of free agent point guards who worked out for the Pelicans in August. The club also took a look at Ty Lawson and Erick Green.

If the Clippers don’t match Wallace’s offer sheet with New Orleans, he would become the seventh player on the Pelicans’ roster with a non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salary. Emeka Okafor, Jahlil Okafor, Troy Williams, Kenrich Williams, Garlon Green, and Morris would also be in the mix on non-guaranteed on partially guaranteed deals.

Pelicans Continue To Seek Point Guard Depth

The Pelicans remain on the lookout for point guard depth, according to Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate, who tweets that the club is hoping to add another player to its camp roster at that position.

As we relayed last week, New Orleans recently worked out veteran point guard Ty Lawson, along with Tyrone Wallace, who was a two-way player for the Clippers last season. In addition to those free agents, the Pelicans have also taken a closer look at Darius Morris and Erick Green, per Kushner.

A former second-round pick who hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since 2015, Morris has played extensively for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League and also spent some time in China with the Guangdong Southern Tigers last season.

Green, a former standout at Virginia Tech, has played primarily overseas in recent years, having been a member of Valencia in Spain during the 2017/18 campaign. The 6’3″ guard averaged a team-high 14.4 PPG in 28 EuroLeague contests with Valencia, making 41.7% of his three-pointers.

Currently, Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Jackson highlight the Pelicans’ point guard depth chart. However, Jackson has yet to appear in an NBA game after missing his rookie year with a broken foot, and New Orleans was fond of playing Holiday off the ball alongside Rajon Rondo last year, so the All-Defensive guard figures to see action at the two again in 2018/19.

The Pelicans only have 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, with Jahlil Okafor, Emeka Okafor, Troy Williams, and DeAndre Liggins among the other veterans vying for roster spots. With one opening left on their 20-man offseason roster, the Pelicans may bring in a point guard to compete for a spot on the 15-man regular season squad as well.

And-Ones: Non-Guaranteed Deals, Maker, Morris

The Rocketsrelease of Bobby Brown today may be the first in a series of roster moves made by NBA teams before Sunday night. Sunday (January 7) is the last day for clubs to waive a player on a non-guaranteed contract to avoid having that player’s salary become fully guaranteed for the season.

We’ve compiled our own list of players on non-guaranteed contracts to keep an eye on, but over at ESPN.com, Bobby Marks goes one step further, running through each team in an Insider-only piece and assessing each non-guaranteed player’s chances of surviving the cut. As Marks details, some of the players on non-guaranteed salaries, such as Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn, are in no danger of being cut. But others, like Bucks swingman DeAndre Liggins, may be holding their breath until that deadline passes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • Thon Maker‘s brother Matur Maker will bypass college and enter his name into the 2018 NBA draft pool, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. The younger Maker almost certainly won’t be a lottery pick like his brother in Milwaukee, but he’s hoping to make a similar prep-to-pro leap. He plans on hiring an agent in the spring, guardian and mentor Ed Smith tells Daniels.
  • Earlier today, we passed along word that former Suns guard Mike James was being eyed by China’s Guangdong Southern Tigers as a potential replacement for Edwin Jackson. However, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays, it appears Guangdong will sign another ex-NBA guard, Darius Morris, rather than James.
  • While you could make a case for several other players, including Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, there’s no question that Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma and Warriors big man Jordan Bell have been two of the biggest steals from the 2017 draft. Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) examines what lessons NBA front offices and scouts can learn from Kuzma and Bell.