• Cam Tabatabaie

2019 NBA Free Agents: Marcus Morris


USA TODAY Sports

Overview:

For long stretches of the Boston Celtics’ disappointing season, veteran forward Marcus Morris kept his team afloat. While the club’s young core floundered and Kyrie Irving stirred the pot, Morris went out and had himself a career year.

His production regressed considerably in the spring, though it rebounded during the postseason. Still, he remained an important offensive weapon for the C’s. With Boston’s offseason plans severely in flux, it’s unclear where Mook fits into Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s puzzle.

Regular Season Per Game Stats: 13.9 points, 1.5 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 0.6 steals on shooting splits of 44.7 FG%, 37.5 3P%, 84.4 FT%

Postseason Stats: 13.7 points, 1.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, and 0.1 steals on shooting splits of 51.9 FG%, 45.0 3P%, 74.2 FT%

Age: 29

Strengths:

Morris has the muscle to bang down low and the athleticism to support from the wing. This type of versatility is highly coveted in today’s NBA.

His outside shot was immense for stretches of the 2018-19 season. If that can be replicated moving forward, Mook would be a welcome addition to just about an offense in the league. As a role player or a supplemental starter, Morris can be a very productive complimentary force.

Weaknesses:

Morris has had great success in Boston, though he’s clearly a very streaky player. Throughout his entire career, really, he’s struggled to play at his best consistently. And the less-than version of Mook is nothing to sneeze at.

Mook can also be a tumultuous locker room presence. His no-nonsense attitude and obvious toughness can be a great asset for a veteran player, but only with the right group of teammates and rising stars.

Ideal Role:

Morris would be an excellent sixth-man, alternate starter sort of player. He stretches the floor well and adds athleticism, but for any true contender, he probably can’t be a truly integral piece.

There will be a lot of money available this summer. It’s possible a team like the Knicks talks themselves into over-paying for Mook when they strike out on high-profile free agents. That said, I would imagine Morris will prioritize playoff teams and contenders.

Possible Landing Spots:

Boston Celtics: Despite a rather public spat with Jaylen Brown, the relationship between Morris, the Celtics locker room, and the front office appears to be a positive one. The club is in an unexpected limbo, but by all accounts figures to remain a playoff team. Mook would be a welcome player in Boston’s front court. The Celtics could also sign Morris to a shorter, more lucrative contract as salary filler for a future trade. Should a star become available, Morris’ contract could be a necessary financial counter-weight to get a deal done.

Los Angeles Lakers: The purple and gold over in Tinseltown are in need of a strong supporting cast. Surrounding LeBron James and Anthony Davis with veteran players who can shoot the ball will be essential. LA’s cap sheet is full of question marks at the moment, and Morris could be off the board before the Lakers even know how much money they have to work with. If the stars do align, though, this would be a great fit for both sides.

Denver Nuggets: Denver has not historically been a draw for free agents, and with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets aren’t necessarily in need of another star player. Head coach Mike Malone found great success in employing versatile players like Morris this past season. Assuming the team declines Paul Millsap’s $30 million team option for next season, Denver will have some flexibility to slightly re-shape its roster. Swapping Mook in for Millsap at approximately half the cost feels like a smart move.

Expected Next Contract:

Morris earned just $5.38 million during the 2018-19 season. He certainly feels due for a raise given his great play this year. What exactly his next contract looks like is unclear.

It seems possible that a fringe playoff team or an unwise front office could talk itself into a deal worth $12-15 million a season. This would be an overpay for a player who turns 30 in September. Plenty of playoff teams could use Morris’ services. He’ll get himself a solid contract on a competitive team for sure.


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