The Clippers cashed in their chips for the 2020 NBA championship today, trading away Moe Harkless, Jerome Robinson, their 2020 1st round pick, and a 2021 2nd round pick from Detroit, for Marcus Morris (and two open roster slots). Harkless’s expiring contract and those picks were three of the Clippers’ three better remaining available(not counting Landry Shamet or any of the other key players) assets, and all are now gone.
Marcus Morris is a nine-year NBA vet who has played for the Rockets, Suns, Pistons, Celtics, and Knicks, and is 30 years old. Morris was averaging 19.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game for the Knicks in 32.3 minutes while shooting 44.2% from the field and 43.9% from three (on 6.1 attempts per game). Morris is known for his tough attitude, his size and heft on the block, and his never passing up a shot if he has one. While he’s been shooting the lights out this year, his career average of 36.9% from deep is more in line with what the Clippers will get - a good, not great shooter.
Morris is, of course, an offensive upgrade over Moe Harkless, and will claim his spot as the Clippers starting power forward. Even with his horrendous ball-stopping and lack of playmaking, the sheer shooting and shot creation advantage Morris has over Harkless will be evident from the beginning. Whether the Clippers really needed an isolation scorer is another question, but there’s no doubt Morris will help from a scoring angle.
At 6’8 and 235 pounds, Morris also has the size to play the position, and is not afraid to get physical with players much larger than himself. The actual quality of Morris’ defense varies - the effort is usually there, but he’s not always sharp on rotations and his feet aren’t all that quick. Still, he’s not a bad defender, and while he’s a middling rebounder, he’s around the same as Harkless, so the Clippers won’t be downgrading there.
Overall, from an asset perspective, the Clippers did fine in this deal. The 1st round pick will hurt a little, but it will be a late pick in a really bad draft. The Pistons 2nd rounder might hurt more, actually, as the 2021 draft looks stacked and the Pistons will probably be really bad - early 2nds are usually more valuable than late 1sts. Moe was a nice piece for the Clippers, and his defense and cutting will be missed, but his inability to be a consistent offensive threat had clearly been tired of by the Clips. Jerome had some value as a recent lottery pick who is cost-controlled and still young, but not a ton, and it’s probably best for both parties that a breakup was made.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen how much this trade will help the Clippers. They’ve been excellent while healthy, with a sterling record with both Kawhi and Paul George on the court. Hopefully Morris helps on the court, and the change in locker room is positive or at least neutral.
Good luck to Moe and Jerome, as well as the waived Derrick Walton Jr! Hopefully all of those guys do well this year and have nice NBA careers. All played hard for the Clips and gave their best effort, and that’s all you can ask for.
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