If the NBA opts to end the season, the LA Clippers have to re-sign Marcus Morris or face giving up assets for just 12 games of him.
We won’t have a decision on the NBA season until the end of April. At least, that’s what Adam Silver says. Still, with other leagues canceling their seasons and the Olympics delayed until the summer of 2021, it’s slowly becoming safe to assume that the league will just cancel the remainder of their games and playoffs. If that’s the case, the LA Clippers absolutely have to re-sign Marcus Morris.
On paper, the team didn’t give up a ton for Morris. Yes, acquiring him from the New York Knicks did mean giving up a first-round draft pick but it’s one that will fall late in the first round. The team also had to move Maurice Harkless to make salaries work and Jerome Robinson and Derrick Walton Jr. to make room. Neither young piece is looking like more than an end of bench piece and Harkless was an expiring deal.
While that doesn’t seem like much, it’s still nowhere near worth just 12 games of Marcus Morris.
Morris was a fine pickup. He stretches the floor for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and his size makes him able to play both forward positions and even some small-ball center. While not an elite defender, he is still capable and can at least bother opponents. His toughness also is an added bonus, fitting in well with the culture cultivated by Clippers’ players like Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell.
What does his salary look like though? Morris has said himself that he wanted to play with the Clippers but could not pass up getting paid this summer. Does that happen again? There are a couple of factors to consider.
First, the free-agent class isn’t a highly touted one. Montrezl Harrell is probably one of, if not the top players available. Even though it might seem like teams could overspend just to sign someone in the summer, it stands to reason that many of them may be conservative with their money. The 2021 class has a lot of high profile players so they could hold onto their money and wait. Does that mean Morris just gets another high dollar deal worth only one season? Maybe.
Then, there’s the COVID-19 factor. With the league on hiatus and possibly shutting down for the rest of the season, the salary cap is expected to drop. How far? We don’t know yet. Whatever that amount is though means teams won’t have as much money to throw out. Teams once projected to have space to sign free agents may find themselves a lot closer to the salary cap than they anticipated.
Can the Clippers convince Morris to return on a minimum deal? Perhaps. That would be the ideal scenario as they try to spend money re-signing Harrell and thinking about Leonard and George’s impending free agency. Getting him back on this team is a must given what they gave up. Hopefully, the price doesn’t mean it was all for naught.