The Clippers strike back ... kind of. After the crosstown rival Lakers signed their former sixth man Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers responded by retaining forward Marcus Morris Sr. on a four-year, $64 million deal, reports ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Morris was acquired by the Clips in a midseason trade with the Knicks earlier this year. A career 36.7% three-point shooter, Morris averaged 10.1 points per game with the Clippers in 2020, improving that average slightly to 11.8 in the postseason. Let’s grade the signing.
Morris is a useful player on both ends of the floor. He can be a ball-stopper on offense, though he seems to know his role alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Still, he can shoot threes and also create for himself in a pinch. Defensively, his size and athleticism makes him versatile. Morris won’t shut down elite perimeter wings, but he can give them enough trouble on nights Kawhi and PG are either resting or dealing with someone else. There’s value in that. And it should absolutely be noted that LA’s starting lineup with Morris—a group that also included Kawhi, PG, Ivica Zubac, and Patrick Beverly—posted a plus-22.9 net rating. Playing that quintet moving forward wouldn’t be a bad place for new head coach Ty Lue to start.
But this deal comes with caveats. Morris is 31 years old, and this deal takes him well beyond the contracts of Leonard and George (who can opt out next summer), as well as Beverly and Lou Williams. Will management want Morris around if this core somehow blows up? It’s also not like the Clips are in such desperate need for perimeter defense or shooting that they had to make such a big commitment to a player not necessarily integral to their success. And by the end of their series against the Nuggets, Morris wasn’t exactly a hugely positive force, whether it was angering Paul Millsap or looking gun-shy on offense.
Ultimately, the Clippers have proven they can be a really successful outfit with Morris on the floor. His presence shouldn’t actively hurt the on-court product. But this deal, from a purely management perspective, seems a little too long and a little too rich for someone whose skills aren’t at a premium in his current situation.