NBA Rumor: Marcus Morris Free Agency

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Clippers keeping Harrell, Morris?

Montrezl Harrell and Marcus Morris are the Clippers’ two best and most important free agents this summer. The organization is interested in re-signing both players this offseason, according to league sources. With the Clippers likely operating over the cap even if they renounce the rights to their free agents (unless Green also opts out) and the 2020 free-agent class looking relatively weak, Harrell and Morris are arguably more valuable to the Clippers than they probably are to other teams, given the Clippers’ limited resources to replace them.

His limitations as a rim protector and rebounder are the primary factors holding him back from being a max or near-max player. The Athletic reported earlier in the season that Harrell was projected to earn as much as $20 million to $25 million annually this offseason, but that figure is believed to be decreasing given how the trade deadline played out and the lack of available cap space. As Danny Leroux of The Athletic recently wrote, only seven teams project to use cap space this summer: Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Heat, Hornets, Suns and Trail Blazers. Outside of the Hornets, who desperately need youth and talent, it’s unclear where Harrell fits with those teams.

Marcus Morris would rather stay a Knick

Morris, 30, represents a conundrum for New York before Thursday’s trade deadline. The Knicks could recoup a first-round pick for Morris, who is on an expiring contract, but also want to re-sign him in free agency. Morris, according to sources, would prefer to remain with the Knicks past the deadline and has told people he expects the team to offer a lucrative multi-year deal from New York in the summer.

The Knicks are probably going to get plenty of calls from teams interested in Marcus Morris between now and next Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. You would expect them to listen to any offers on Morris, because that’s what any team would do in their situation. But it’s worth noting that at least one team in touch with the Knicks recently was left with the impression that Morris and New York have strong mutual interest in reaching an agreement in free agency this summer, per SNY sources.

“I have a good relationship with those guys and I have so much respect for (head coach) Pop (Gregg Popovich), (general manager) RC (Buford) and (assistant GM) Brian Wright,” Marcus Morris told The Athletic. “The first thing that I did when I knew I would be going another direction, I called and made sure they knew. There was no shade. There’s no disrespect. I had great conversations afterward, and as long as I feel that I’m clear with them and gave them my truth, I feel good about moving forward. I was under the impression that I didn’t have anything left. I thought at the time that the Spurs deal was all that I had. The process wasn’t what I expected and it didn’t go the right way.”

Morris has seen the speculation surrounding him turning down the Clippers’ three-year offer, but makes it clear that this was his decision and that he wanted to go through his process. “All this stuff that (Paul) didn’t want me to go to the Clippers and didn’t want me to go against LeBron, that’s not true,” Morris said. “He never told me not to take the deal. For as long as I’ve known Rich — and that’s still someone I have love for and that’s still my guy — he has been great in terms of advice. He told me he wanted me to take the Clippers deal. He gave me his advice. “It was my decision and I had to make the best decision for me and my family.”

Morris says he also valued his family and the close proximity to his hometown Philadelphia as part of the reasons he chose New York. Morris spoke to Knicks coach David Fizdale and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich during the process. “Pop and I had a long conversation about everything, not just basketball,” Morris told The Athletic. “I have a lot of love for that organization and the opportunity they were giving me to put on a Spurs jersey. That was part of my process. He was the only coach I spoke to besides coach Fiz. “Playing close to home, being from Philly, I get to see my family a lot.”

There remains mutual interest between the Knicks and Bullock to negotiate a new deal after a medical issue hampered their original agreement, sources said. Bullock’s agent, David Bauman, and the Knicks continue to work together on a new agreement for the six-year veteran. The medical issue that caused a hiccup is unclear, but Bullock has dealt with plantar fasciitis in the past. The Knicks originally agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal with Bullock that contained a player option in Year 2.

The Knicks have long been enamored by Morris, according to a source, and would have high interest if the forward reneged on his agreement with San Antonio. ESPN reported that Morris is contemplating backing out of his Spurs agreement and would have interest in New York. Yahoo reported that the Knicks have made an offer of $15 million over one season to Morris. That’s more valuable than the two-year, $20 million agreement Morris had with San Antonio. […] On Thursday morning members of the organization felt confident about the prospect of landing Morris, per people familiar with the matter.

Celtics free agent Marcus Morris will have strong interest as a second-tier free agent, with teams such as the Knicks, Kings, Lakers, Clippers and Bulls expected to be in pursuit, league sources said. Morris, 29, had arguably his best all-around season, averaging 13.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game and serving as a versatile scorer and defender either as a starter or reserve. League sources say Morris remains open-minded about returning to Boston, which wants to bring Morris back but has several summer priorities such as Kyrie Irving.

Multiple league sources tell NBC Sports Boston that the Knicks, a team with plenty of roster holes to fill this offseason, have interest in at least two other Celtics players besides Irving — Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier — who like Irving, will be free agents this summer. New York’s interest in Rozier has been steady, only to have picked up during Rozier’s strong showing in the playoffs last year and continued through the February trade deadline, which is when Boston made the decision to keep Rozier and the rest of the team intact.

As for Morris, his play in the postseason will increase the number of potential suitors for him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. In nine playoff games, Morris averaged 13.7 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from 3-point range, in addition to grabbing 8.1 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game. Besides his numbers, the Knicks really liked the tough, rugged brand of basketball he played during the regular season that spilled over into the playoffs as well. The price tag for Morris remains to be seen, but it’s fair to expect that he will at least double (and likely triple) his $5.375 million salary from this past season. Boston will try and find a way to keep Morris in the fold this summer, but he’s likely to get a bigger-money offer from another team.

“A motivator?” he said. “Nah, I wouldn’t say that. Obviously, who wouldn’t want to play well in their contract year, but it wasn’t a motivator. The feeling that I had last year being so close to being in the Finals, that was more of a motivator for me if anything. “Is it in the back of my mind? Nah, man. I mean, I don’t really approach the season and the games like that, to be honest with you. Every year I’ve tried to get better. Even when it wasn’t my contract year, I always tried to improve and bring something else to the game. I’m just getting the opportunity doing it on such a high level with the Boston Celtics, I think it’s just getting noticed more. … So, I don’t think it’s the contract year. I just think I’m in a great system, playing with great players, and I’m being able to feed for myself. It’s not like I can’t get it done.”
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