Mavs Offseason: 'Tough Guy' Needed - But Luka Won't Vote For Morris

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - Luka Doncic looked the other way early in the NBA Playoffs when Marcus Morris tackled him. He sort of looked the other way later in the first-round series when Morris appeared to intentionally step on Luka's ankle. Doncic quit looking the other way when in Game 6, Morris earned a flagrant 2 and an ejection for a hard-foul swing at the Mavs' stars head and shoulders.

“Terrible foul,” Doncic said after that game, which ended the Dallas Mavericks' and pushed Morris' Los Angeles Clippers onto the second round in the NBA bubble. “Two games in a row he did something like that. I really hoped the first one wasn’t on purpose but looking back at the foul this game, you know what I think. 

"I don’t want to deal with that kind of player.”

Those are key words, we think, as the Mavs work to construct their 2020-21 roster with an eye toward, among other things, NBA free agency, which opens on October 18.

We've made the case that Dallas needs to add "toughness'' to its roster. But we've not pushed for an "enforcer''; the right guy needs to be a two-way player who doesn't clog up an offense and, in our opinion, doesn't cause basketball games to de-escalate into boxing matches.

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Morris, 30, almost fits the bill. Maybe it's telling that in his nine-year NBA career, he's played for six teams. But he'll be free again in October, and he can boast this time around that he's become a scorer as he averaged a career-high 17.4 points over 55 games (with the Knicks and then the Clippers).

We acknowledge that NBA free agency is a time when talent gets coveted and memories get short. 

Remember when DeAndre Jordan was Dallas Mavericks Public Enemy No. 1 ... and then, suddenly, he became a fan-favorite Mav?

Remember before that when Tim Thomas of the Phoenix Suns targeted Dirk Nowitzki with playoff-time trash talk (Dirk dropped 50 on him) ... and then later Thomas became a member of the Mavs? 

This, though ... feels a bit different. The “I'm not apologizing for shit'' guy may have made a true enemy in Doncic ... and Doncic, we'll argue, is important enough around here to have his opinion count.

"I just don’t want people to mistake playing basketball and playing hard with trying to hurt somebody,'' said Morris, who in Luka Doncic's eyes is the one who made the mistakes ... and the one who "I don't want to deal with.''