Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports came out with a medium-sized news/rumor dump today on free agency, with various nuggets on different teams. Somewhat surprisingly, the Clippers did not get their own section, but they were mentioned in two others: the Pelicans with Anthony Davis, and the Celtics as a suitor for Marcus Morris. The Davis stuff we know already - Davis has said the Clippers are one of the teams he wants to play for, so they could trade for him knowing he has a decent chance of re-signing - and frankly, still seems more like smoke than anything. Morris, on the other hand, is entirely fresh news.
Morris is mentioned as a “second-tier” free agent, with a whole host of teams expected to pursue him, Clippers among them. This is where it gets tricky. If Morris views himself as a “second-tier” free agent, and other teams see him that way too, as a player who could offset not getting a superstar, well, that’s bad. Very, very bad.
Marcus Morris was good last season. It was, in fact, the best season of what has been a pretty solid career. He scored nearly 14 points per game on good efficiency, and posted the highest rebound rate of his NBA career. All well and good. The problem is that even this season had him rated as a negatively impactful player by BPM and RPM, and as a replacement level contributor by win shares. He’s an inconsistent defender, similarly to his brother, with effort and focus waxing and waning on a game to game basis. He’s also an unrepentant gunner who thinks “shot first” despite usually being one the fourth or fifth option on the floor. He is, in other words, a perfectly capable rotation player, but highly unsuited to the moniker of “second-tier free agent”.
If the Clippers have interest in him as a reserve to fill the Wilson Chandler slot as a big wing off the bench, I’d be very intrigued by his fit. His attitude, toughness, and chip on shoulder attitude would all be welcomed on a Clippers’ team that already possesses those qualities in bundles, and he is a good floor-spacer as a stretch-four. Morris, while merely an average defender overall, is also another big body to throw at large wings such as Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard, which is always helpful. On a nice 1 to 2 year deal, I’d welcome Morris, even though he’d bring headaches.
The issue would be paying him a substantial chunk of money to play an integral role on the team. He will be 30 before next season starts, is coming off a career year, and is about to get a large contract. For a player as mercurial as Morris, that seems like a bad combination, even outside the fact he’s not good enough to warrant such an investment anyway. Basically, I hope the Clippers have interest, but only at a reasonable offer.
Most of the other news from Shams had no impact on the Clippers, with only two potentially important rumors. First, they have no interest in D’Angelo Russell (good!), as of right now, who some have thought of as a consolation prize for missing out on Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. Second, it seems like Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets will get a huge deal to keep him in Charlotte completed rather quickly, taking a max free agent off the board. Again, the Clippers have never been linked to Kemba, but it’s one less option both for them, and for other teams competing for the top-level free agents.