Markieff Morris

Ben Simmons Addresses Criticism, Discusses Knee Injury

Ben Simmons‘ inconsistent availability and underwhelming production has been a building source of frustration within the Nets‘ organization in recent weeks, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Charania and Amick that some Brooklyn coaches and players have been concerned about Simmons’ “availability and level of play” and that some have questioned his passion for the game. The report is similar to one from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski earlier this month.

Simmons, who made his regular season debut with the Nets last month after recovering from back surgery, has missed five games in recent weeks due to a left knee issue. When he has played, he hasn’t looked like his old All-Star self — up until Tuesday, when he scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, the 26-year-old hadn’t scored double-digit points or made more than three field goals in any game this season.

Speaking to The Athletic, Simmons admitted that he’s aware of the criticisms being levied at him and understands them, but said that his physical issues – both the back and the knee – have significantly hampered him.

“You’re obviously not gonna be happy when anybody’s out,” Simmons said. “But for me, I’ve been dealing with the knee since the start of the season. It’s been swollen. I had PRP (injections). I had blood drained a couple times. So it’s not a made up thing, you know? It’s a real thing.

“… I’m on full overload with treatment, everything I need to do to stay out there. I’m just spending more time on the table, honestly, more downtime (where) I’m literally just leg up, icing, doing whatever I need to do – sleeping.”

Simmons said his back issues first flared up in February 2020, but that his back has been feeling much better since he went under the knife to address the injury.

“Yeah (the knee is a bigger problem than the back), which is good,” Simmons said. “And that’s one thing with the league. You’ll be starting to have some (trouble) with one thing and then you’re thinking about your ankle or your leg or whatever it is. That’s gonna happen, but getting it under control is the most important part for me.”

Simmons was the centerpiece of the trade package the Nets received when they sent James Harden to Philadelphia last season and was viewed as part of the team’s potential “Big Three,” alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The thinking was that Simmons’ defense and play-making would make him an ideal complement for two elite scorers like Durant and Irving.

However, Simmons hasn’t looked this season like the same player he was in Philadelphia. According to Charania and Amick, Markieff Morris spoke during a players-only meeting on October 29 about how the team needs Simmons to play at a high level and respond to adversity in order to succeed, and club officials and teammates have been in frequent contact with the former No. 1 overall pick to try to make him comfortable in Brooklyn.

After starting at point guard and averaging 31.8 minutes in his first six games this season, Simmons has come off the bench as a center in his four most recent outings, logging just 18.7 MPG. The Nets will need him to play a larger role to make a deep run in the postseason, and Tuesday’s performance provided a glimmer of hope. For his part, Simmons says he’s determined to get past his injury issues and help the team.

“I get (the skepticism), but I think the one thing with me is that I’m a competitor,” he told The Athletic. “I want to win and play. So I’m gonna do what I can to get out there.”

As Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets, Simmons told reporters on Tuesday that he also feels as if the rust from missing the entire 2021/22 season is coming off one game at a time.

“It takes time to build up,” Simmons said. “Especially with a nerve injury, it takes 18 months for your nerve to fully heal, and people don’t know that, but over time I get better and better. Just keep pushing.”

Nets Notes: Simmons, Kyrie, Nash, Curry, Harris

Ben Simmons is still struggling to adjust to playing again after missing all of last season. The Nets continue to implore him to be aggressive in looking for his own shot while supporting him through the tough moments, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Yes. Yeah. That’s a little rust, the confidence not only physically, but with the rhythm of the game, to go to the basket,” head coach Steve Nash said of Simmons attacking the rim. “You can see him trying at times, and that’s great. We want to keep pushing him to try to break through and force the issue, even if he makes mistakes, just so that we can see him be aggressive and start to find a rhythm for doing so. … It’s not easy for him. It’s been a long time, new group and a back surgery. Add it all up and we have to have some patience with him.”

After Simmons passed up what appeared to be an open layup during Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks, a clip went viral of Kyrie Irving telling him to shoot the ball. Irving told reporters after the game what transpired.

When I passed it to him I felt like he had a layup at the rim,” Irving said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “And I looked him eye to eye and I was like, “Shoot it, Ben!” And of course, again, it’s just a clip. It’s a full game that we can look at and dissect, and that’s what I’ll do. This is a big-picture thing. We want Ben to be aggressive every single play, we want him to get an assist every single play, we want him to rebound, we want him to play against the best player, we want him to do all the things we know he’s capable of, but at this time he’s going to have to work himself into his own confidence and feel good about himself.

I’m not going to say I’m being patient or humble about it, but the reality is that we’re just going to keep having to try this experiment every single night until we get the right recipe.”

Like Nash, Irving stressed patience as Simmons attempts to regain his old form, saying that he’s giving Simmons “positive affirmations,” according to Friedell. Through four games (29.5 MPG), Simmons is averaging 5.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 7.5 APG while shooting 45% from the field and 33% from the free throw line.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Nash was ejected for the first time in his coaching career during the loss to the Bucks, which dropped the Nets to 1-3 on the season, notes Michael Blinn of The New York Post. “I was just standing up for our guys,” Nash told reporters after the game. “I thought Patty (Mills) took a forearm in the throat from Giannis (Antetokounmpo) right in front of the ref and I didn’t think that was fair. I don’t think I was overly demonstrative. I was upset that I got a tech.”
  • Hornets head coach Steve Clifford, who was a coaching consultant with the Nets during their disappointing 2021/22 season, recently told reporters that Nash wasn’t to blame for the way things panned out, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “This is where coaches take heat for things that are not their fault. The number one problem last year in Brooklyn was games missed. That’s it,” Clifford said. “I didn’t go to every game, but I watched every game.” As Braziller notes, Kevin Durant missed 27 games last season and Irving missed 53, while Simmons didn’t appear in a game with the Nets in ’21/22 after being acquired from the Sixers.
  • Guard Seth Curry is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery but he’s nearing a return. He’s getting 4-on-4 work in with the Nets and practiced with the team’s G League affiliate in Long Island on Thursday (Twitter links via Lewis and Andscape’s Marc J. Spears). However, he won’t play in their road game at Dallas on Thursday night, nor will Joe Harris (ankle rehab) or Markieff Morris (personal reasons), tweets Friedell.

Several Players Set To Receive Salary Guarantees

Most players who are still on non-guaranteed contracts as the NBA’s regular season begins won’t have their salaries for 2022/23 fully guaranteed until January. The league-wide salary guarantee date is January 10, and teams must waive players on non-guaranteed contracts on or before January 7 in order to avoid being on the hook for the full-season salaries.

However, a number of players on non-guaranteed deals have language in their contracts that calls for them to receive full or partial guarantees if they’re not waived before their team’s first game of the regular season. Those players are as follows:

Full guarantees:

  • Dalano Banton (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($300,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,563,518).
  • Keita Bates-Diop (Spurs): Non-guaranteed salary ($1,878,720) becomes fully guaranteed.
  • Justin Champagnie (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($325,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,637,966).
  • Tre Jones (Spurs): Partial guarantee ($500,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,782,621).

As our full list of early salary guarantee dates shows, Isaiah Joe (Sixers), Josh Jackson (Raptors), and D.J. Wilson (Raptors) also would’ve had their salaries become fully guaranteed if they had remained under contract through their teams’ first regular season games. However, they were all waived within the last week. Joe has since signed with the Thunder on a deal that includes a guaranteed first-year salary.

Partial guarantees:

  • Matthew Dellavedova (Kings): Non-guaranteed salary ($2,628,597) becomes partially guaranteed ($250,000).
  • Haywood Highsmith (Heat): Partial guarantee ($50,000) increases to $400,000.
  • Luke Kornet (Celtics): Partial guarantee ($300,000) increases to $1,066,639.
  • Chima Moneke (Kings): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to $500,000.
  • Markieff Morris (Nets): Non-guaranteed salary ($2,905,581) becomes partially guaranteed ($500,000).
  • KZ Okpala (Kings): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to $500,000.
  • Edmond Sumner (Nets): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to $500,000.

Guarantee dates are a matter of negotiation between a team and a player, so there’s nothing stopping a club from approaching a player and asking him to agree to push that date back. If a player feels as if he’ll be waived if he says no, he may agree.

This happened last season, for instance, when Isaac Bonga‘s and Sam Dekker‘s contracts with the Raptors called for their salaries to be fully guaranteed as of opening night. Both players assented to moving their guarantee dates back to November 6. When that new deadline arrived, Toronto opted to retain Bonga and guarantee his full salary while waiving Dekker.

In other words, it’s not yet a sure thing that all the players mentioned above will get the guarantees described here, even if they remain under contract through Wednesday (or Tuesday, in Kornet’s case). We may get word in a day or two that a couple of them agreed to postpone their salary guarantee dates.

For the most part though, we should count on this group of players receiving some added security, with a handful of names coming off our list of players who still have non-guaranteed salaries.

Nets Notes: Nash, Durant, Morris, Watanabe

Asked on Monday about Kevin Durant‘s reported offseason ultimatum to the Nets to either trade him or fire GM Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, Nash downplayed the issue, likening it to a family squabble. The two-time NBA MVP offered a more in-depth answer on Tuesday when asked again about his relationship with Durant, as Nick Friedell of ESPN details.

“We’re good,” Nash said. “Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.”

Nash, who said he wasn’t “overly surprised” or “overly concerned” about the way the Durant saga played out, also pushed back on the idea that the star forward really wanted him fired.

“I never thought that was 100 percent,” Nash said, per Friedell. “There was a lot of things. It’s not black and white like that, so there was a lot of factors. A lot of things behind the scenes. A lot of things reported are not accurate. A lot of things that are reported are not 100 percent accurate. So you get fragmented bits of truth. You get things that are flat out not true. It happens. … So I never really get caught up in all that stuff.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • New Nets forward Markieff Morris said the perception around the NBA is that last year’s Brooklyn team was “soft,” per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Morris is hoping to bring grit and toughness to this year’s roster, and Nash believes the veteran will have an important voice in the locker room. “Markieff is a need for us, his presence, his personality,” Nash said. “He has a voice, he has an experience, he has an understanding of the game. That’s a need. We need guys that can speak to the group.”
  • Camp invitee Yuta Watanabe told Japanese reporters this week that he hopes to be able to play a three-and-D role for the Nets this season, as Jordan Greene of NetsDaily writes. Watanabe, who is on non-guaranteed contract, isn’t a lock to make Brooklyn’s regular season roster — assuming the team retains its 12 players on guaranteed salaries and Morris, Watanabe would have to either beat out Edmond Sumner for the 14th spot or hope the club carries a 15th man despite the additional luxury tax penalty.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along several of the most notable quotes from the Nets’ Media Day earlier this week.

Eastern Notes: Sumner, Nets, Morris, Westbrook, Heat, Celtics

Four-year NBA veteran Edmond Sumner is planning to bring grit to the Nets this season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Sumner signed with Brooklyn in free agency this offseason.

At 6’6″, the 26-year-old established himself as a valuable rotation player before tearing his Achilles’ last year. He averaged 7.5 points per game with the Pacers in 2020/21, shooting 40% from deep in 53 contests.

“He just doesn’t miss days, he doesn’t skip workouts,” Sumner’s trainer, Mike Robertson, said. “That’s a testament to who he is and the kind of guy that you’re getting there. He’s just a great human being. He’s going to punch the clock, he’s going to continue to not just work hard for himself but to lift the others up around him. And he’s just a world-class human being. [Nets fans] are going to love him.” 

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Nets owner Joe Tsai made a personal recruiting pitch to Markieff Morris before Brooklyn signed him, Marc Stein writes for Substack. Morris is expected to provide the Nets with frontcourt depth and could play small-ball five at times. He dealt with a neck injury after an altercation with Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic last season, playing only 17 games with Miami.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether the Heat could have interest in Russell Westbrook in the event that he’s eventually bought out by the Lakers or another team. While Westbrook’s future with Los Angeles is unclear, he may not be a stellar fit alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The 33-year-old is currently on track to reach free agency next summer.
  • Steve Bulpett of explores a number of Celtics-related topics in his latest mailbag, including Jaylen Brown‘s ball-handling. Brown struggled to take care of the ball at times last season, averaging 3.5 assists and 3.1 turnovers per game during the postseason. He still held respectable playoff averages of 23.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest, shooting 47% from the floor.

Contract Details: M. Morris, Vonleh, M. Hill, Blazers

Markieff Morris‘ one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Nets is non-guaranteed for now, but the veteran forward will receive a partial guarantee worth $500K if he isn’t waived on or before the first day of the regular season, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Morris’ partial guarantee would increase to $1MM if he hasn’t been cut by December 10. He would lock in his full $2,905,581 minimum salary (only $1,836,090 counts against the Nets’ cap) after the league-wide guarantee date in January, assuming he remains under contract.

Here are a few more details on recently signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • Noah Vonleh‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Celtics, which is now official, includes an Exhibit 9 clause, but not an Exhibit 10. Teams generally include Exhibit 10 clauses in order to either convert a contract to a two-way deal or because they expect the player to suit up for their G League affiliate. Vonleh isn’t eligible for a two-way deal and it appears there are no plans to have him join the Maine Celtics if he doesn’t make Boston’s regular season roster.
  • Malcolm Hill accepted his two-way qualifying offer from the Bulls, Hoops Rumors has confirmed, so his two-way deal only covers one year — he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023.
  • As expected, the four camp invitees signed by the Trail BlazersDevontae Cacok, Olivier Sarr, Jared Rhoden, and Isaiah Miller – all received Exhibit 10 contracts. Portland doesn’t have a G League affiliate, so those players won’t receive Exhibit 10 bonuses, but their contracts could be converted into two-way deals.

Markieff Morris Signs With Nets

SEPTEMBER 7: The Nets have officially signed Morris, the team announced today in a press release. As previously reported, Morris’ new deal is said to be non-guaranteed.

AUGUST 30: The Nets will add veteran forward Markieff Morris on a one-year contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Morris spent last season with the Heat, but appeared in just 17 games after suffering a neck injury. He averaged 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per night and likely would have played a much larger role if he hadn’t been hurt.

Brooklyn will be the seventh NBA team for Morris, who entered the league in 2011. He has become mainly a bench player over the past four years and was an effective reserve for the Lakers during his last healthy season in 2020/21.

Morris, who signed minimum-salary deals with both L.A. and Miami, will likely get the same arrangement from the Nets. He may be seen as a replacement for LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin, who both remain unsigned.

Once Morris’ signing becomes official, Brooklyn will have 13 players with fully guaranteed contracts. Edmond Sumner‘s deal is partially guaranteed and Yuta Watanabe‘s is non-guaranteed.

Heat Notes: Morris, PF Options, Herro, Haslem

The departure of Markieff Morris, who agreed to a deal with the Nets on Tuesday, means the Heat‘s revolving door at power forward will continue, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Morris and P.J. Tucker, who were free agent additions last summer, both signed elsewhere during the offseason. Winderman notes that Miami has been through eight power forwards since Bam Adebayo became the starting center in 2019/20.

Morris’ departure was virtually assured when Udonis Haslem announced last week that he was returning for a 20th season, Winderman adds. Miami will keep one roster spot open due to luxury tax concerns, so there was no room for Morris once fellow free agents Caleb Martin, Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon all reached new deals.

Martin, who is expected to replace Tucker as the starting power forward, re-signed with Miami for its full taxpayer mid-level exception and will receive $20.4MM over the next three years. He was reportedly about to get a better offer from a rival team, but he preferred to remain with the Heat. Winderman points out that if Tucker had taken the MLE, Miami’s starting point on a new deal with Martin would have been limited to the $4.1MM bi-annual exception.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic and Atlanta’s John Collins are players to watch if the Heat decide to trade for a power forward, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Jazz haven’t expressed a desire to part with Bogdanovic, but he has a $19.5MM expiring contract and could become expendable if Utah commits to rebuilding. The Hawks have explored the trade market for Collins, but he has an expensive contract that pays him more than $75MM over the next three seasons, along with a $26.6MM player option for 2025/26. Jackson doesn’t believe Miami should give up a first-round pick for either player.
  • The Knicks’ extension agreement with RJ Barrett is likely to be similar to what the Heat offer Tyler Herro if he’s not traded, Winderman adds in a separate piece. Herro is eligible for a five-year max extension worth up to $188MM, but Winderman expects his final deal to be more in line with Barrett, whose four-year deal can be worth up to $120MM if he earns several bonuses.
  • Suns star Chris Paul supports Haslem’s decision to play another season, per Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report. “You all saw that stuff with Udonis Haslem? Y’all heard everyone talking crazy about him like, ‘Why he on the team? Why he on the team?’ Man, I’m probably his biggest fan,” Paul said to a group of high school players in Los Angeles (video link). “You want to know why? Because young guys need vets. They need somebody like UD showing up every day, if practice at 11:00, he’s probably at the gym at 8:30 every day. To motivate guys. To push guys.”

Atlantic Notes: Trent, Achiuwa, Morris, Barrett

While Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes look like safe bets to be part of the Raptors‘ starting lineup this fall, the fifth spot may come down to Gary Trent Jr. vs. Precious Achiuwa. And, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, both players will be motivated to have big years — Trent can become an unrestricted free agent next offseason if he declines his 2023/24 player option, while Achiuwa will become eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2023.

If the Raptors decide Achiuwa’s size makes him a better fit for that starting role, Trent is still capable of maintaining or improving his value while coming off the bench, Koreen argues. As a sixth man, Trent’s usage rate would likely be higher than it would be as a starter. Throw in the fact that he’ll only be 24 years old next summer and projects to be part of a playoff team, and Trent should be in line for a nice payday whether he’s a starter or a reserve in 2022/23.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Nets‘ one-year deal with Markieff Morris won’t be guaranteed, according to reports from ESPN and Brian Lewis of The New York Post. We’ll have to wait until after the signing is official to confirm whether Morris’ salary will be fully non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed — either way, he seems like a good bet to earn a regular season roster spot if he looks healthy in training camp.
  • There aren’t many NBA executives who have a “down-the-middle” take on Knicks forward RJ Barrett, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, who says some talent evaluators view him as a future All-Star while others question his shooting ability, his decision making, and/or his touch around the basket. Vecenie explains within his article why he’s a believer in Barrett’s long-term potential.
  • For more on Barrett’s extension and how it affects Donovan Mitchell trade talks, be sure to check out our Knicks page, which has been busy so far this week.

Markieff Morris, Nets In Advanced Discussions

The Nets are engaged in “advanced” discussions with free agent forward Markieff Morris, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Morris, who will turn 33 this Friday, was limited to just 17 appearances last season in Miami due to a neck injury that sidelined him for much of the year, but he has a strong overall NBA résumé, having appeared in over 700 regular season games for six teams since entering the league in 2011.

In his last full season, Morris averaged 6.7 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 61 games (19.7 MPG) for the Lakers in 2020/21. He’s known for his toughness and defensive versatility, and can also stretch the floor a little on offense — he has posted a .341 career 3PT%.

Brooklyn’s interest in Morris was reported last week, with a subsequent report from Stein indicating that the division rival Sixers also had an eye on the veteran forward.

Morris’ last couple contracts have been minimum-salary deals and he seems unlikely to earn a raise after losing most of the 2021/22 season to an injury. As such, he and the Nets could be discussing whether the team’s offer would be fully guaranteed and/or what sort of role he might play in Brooklyn.

The Nets currently have 12 players on fully guaranteed standard contracts, with Edmond Sumner on a partially guaranteed deal and Yuta Watanabe on a non-guaranteed pact.