Marcus Morris says he wants to stick around as the Knicks try to right the ship, but the Los Angeles Clippers might be willing to pony up a 2020 first-round pick and two expiring contracts in order to team New York’s leading scorer with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
That’s according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, who dished about all sorts of trade-related topics during a show that was broadcast on ESPN 2 Sunday night. About 30 seconds into this video from that broadcast, the two NBA insiders discussed the Morris situation. Apparently, the Clippers believed they had Morris locked up for three years, $40 million in July, but Morris ended up signing with the San Antonio Spurs before reneging on that agreement to take his talents to New York.
Per Lowe, the Clippers could look to offload their 2020 first-round pick, plus Maurice Harkless and Patrick Patterson in exchange for Morris, who leads the Knicks in scoring this season with 18.7 points per game and is shooting a scintillating 47 percent from deep.
This begs the obvious question: should the Knicks trade Morris?
Let’s look at both sides. First up, we’ll consider why the Knicks should not trade Morris.
Why the Knicks should hang on to Morris
The Knicks have been brutally bad this season, and it’s painful to even contemplate how the team might fare in the wins and losses department without Morris captaining the ship. Remember, before he was fired, David Fizdale said Morris was the leader of the team, noting that the Knicks “follow him.”
Taking that “follow him” comment literally and to its logical conclusion, a trade of Morris to the Clippers means the rest of the Knicks would follow him to Los Angeles like lemmings. If that were to happen, ‘Bockers roster would be extremely bare.
Jokes aside, although Morris may sometimes emulate Carmelo Anthony a little more than some of us are comfortable with, he’s having a career year, and without him the Knicks could really struggle to score. Meanwhile, Morris claims he wants to be here, which is something New Yorkers can’t get enough of. There are tons of Melo fans, for instance, who will readily admit his time with the team was an overall disappointment but still cling to him as a hero because he wanted the challenge of playing in Madison Square Garden.
Further, Morris and Frank Ntilikina created a bond pretty quickly, and any friend of Frank’s is a friend of ours. The smile Ntilikina lets out at around the 55 second mark in the following video says everything you need to know about his budding friendship with Morris:
Marcus Morris/Frank Ntilikina full post-game interview on MSG pic.twitter.com/OGMtdySpLY— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) November 9, 2019
In addition to his nearly 19 points a night, Morris is posting 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1 steal. Morris is also hitting 2.8 three pointers a night, and according to Tommy Beer at Forbes, he’s on pace to become the first player in franchise history to average more than 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2.5 threes per game. That’s certainly a statistic.
The Knicks do need some veterans to stick around as youngins like Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith Jr. hopefully blossom, and Morris is 30, which isn’t super young but also not totally old.
Why the Knicks should trade Morris
Morris is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, which means that if the Knicks were to hang onto him in an effort to show loyalty, he could easily just skip town once the 2019-20 campaign has concluded. That wouldn’t be very nice, but the NBA is a business, and by leaving the Spurs hanging last summer Morris has already shown that he’ll go back on an agreement if a better opportunity presents itself.
If Morris wants to be in New York so bad, he could welcome a trade, try to win a championship with the Clips, and then sign with the Knicks in free agency.
The Knicks are going nowhere this year, and Morris is a nice complementary player, but he’s not the number one option on a good team. The potential Clippers trade being bandied about would give the Knicks cap flexibility and bolster the bundle of draft picks they have collected.
Sure, the Clippers are one of the best teams in the league and therefore their first rounder will be nowhere near the lottery, but at this point the Knicks should really be following through with a rebuild, and draft picks are the best way to build a team organically. The Knicks should know by now that they aren’t just going to luck into the next major free agent.
The more draft picks they have, the more likely one or more of those selections will turn out to be diamonds in the rough. The Spurs took Tony Parker with the 28th pick in 2001 and the Detroit Pistons selected Dennis Rodman 27th overall back in 1986, just to provide two examples of late first rounders who ended up as big time contributors for championship teams.
Cool write up man, but what’s the verdict? Should the Knicks trade Morris or not?
Frankly, the Knicks should strongly consider trading Morris. But since they have an idea of what the market might look like for him, the front office should spend time prior to February’s trade deadline trying to pry more out of a deal. The Clippers want Morris for added depth in their postseason run this year? Well, the Knicks want the proposed package, plus whatever additional future draft picks the Clippers still own.
Steve Mills and/or Scott Perry — whichever one is in charge of this aspect of running the team — should make calls to other playoff teams that look like they could use a scorer who’s hitting almost 50 percent of his shots from beyond the arc this year.
Hi, Denver Nuggets: the Knicks almost beat you the other night. Maybe you’d like to trade some draft picks in exchange for the guy who dropped 22 points on you in Denver? Oh, hello there, Orlando Magic. If things break right you’ll make the playoffs for a second straight year. Surely you could use a guard dog who gets buckets, and what’s the big deal if it costs you some draft picks? Yo, Toronto Raptors, you trying to repeat as champions? Might need another person who knows how to put the ball in the basket.
Actually, don’t call the Raptors. Masai Ujiri will win that trade.
Morris has performed admirably thus far as a Knick, but the team is mostly trash right now. Anyone who isn’t part of the young core is expendable, especially the guys who could flee at the end of the year. If you love someone, let them go. If they come back on a team-friendly contract next summer, then it was meant to be.