LA Clippers: Evaluating players with 2020 expiring contracts

LA Clippers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LA Clippers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Clippers Marcus Morris
Marcus Morris Sr. #31 of the Los Angeles Clippers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Marcus Morris

The ninth-year player out of Kansas has suited up in twelve games as the starting power forward for the Clippers since being acquired from the Knicks in a three-team trade on February 6.

Morris has provided his tough presence to the Clippers starting lineup in his time with the team. His numbers have taken a bit of a dip from earlier this season, as he was more of an offensive focal point with the Knicks. That won’t be his role going forward with the Clippers as they will mostly look to the forward to provide energy, toughness, and occasional three-point shooting for their potential championship run later this year.

Three-point shooting has been a bit of an issue since Morris joined the Clippers. He was shooting 43.9 percent from behind the arc in 6.1 attempts per game with New York. Those numbers are down to 28.3 percent on 5 attempts per game with Los Angeles.

The move to acquire Morris near the trade deadline at the time seemed like a classic one-year rental of an important piece for a team looking to contend for a title. He added depth, shooting, and toughness to an already versatile and deep Los Angeles roster. Those are three qualities every team in the NBA can’t get enough of when looking to make a deep playoff run.

If the season had played out as originally intended, Morris would most likely be lost to another team this offseason, especially when the Clippers main focus should be retaining Montrezl Harrell. If the 2019-20 season is resumed and completed, in one way or another, that will most likely also be the case. That gets a little murkier if the season is cancelled completely.

If the Clippers do get a chance to make a run at the 2019-20 championship, whether they win or fall short they’ll know exactly how Morris fits with their current roster. A championship run will allow them to let Morris walk with a ring around his finger. If they come up short, they’ll have a more clear picture of how he fits in with the team down the stretch. In either of these scenarios, the answer for bringing back Morris should be “only if the price is right” which it most likely, would not be for Los Angeles.

However, if the season is cancelled, the Clippers window for winning a championship with their current roster closes a little bit, and bringing back any player of value, such as Morris, to make sure they can fully contend next season becomes a little more important. It would certainly require going into the luxury tax, something certainly worth it for a team with a real shot at the title. It would also require Morris to most likely take a pay cut from his $15 million payday this season. That’s where it might get difficult. His 2019-20 salary is by far the most Morris has made in his NBA career, and a number closer to his previous best of $5.3 million might be easier for the Clippers to handle.