One of the unsung heroes of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2020 championship run was Markieff Morris, who the team picked up off the buyout market at the trade deadline.
Morris played a key role for the Lakers as a big man that can stretch the floor and exhibit defensive toughness, which was especially huge playing next to Anthony Davis in the postseason when the team’s other centers got played off the floor in series’ against smaller teams like the Houston Rockets.
The thought was that Morris’ solid play in the postseason would earn him a solid contract in free agency, although that didn’t come to fruition.
Morris made it clear that he wanted to remain with the Lakers to try to defend the title, so he re-signed on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract.
The 2020-21 season was an up-and-down one for Morris, who saw himself out of the rotation at times while also starting 27 games and playing a key role while so many other players were out with injuries.
Morris played in a total of 61 games for the Lakers, averaging 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting 40.5% from the field and 31.1% from 3-point range.
Those averages are a little skewed by a late-season slump, and Morris was very vocal about the difficulties of this season considering the Lakers essentially had no offseason after winning the championship in the Orlando Bubble.
Morris didn’t see a ton of action during the Lakers’ lone postseason series against the Phoenix Suns, only playing in four of the six games and averaging 2.3 points and 1.0 rebound in 9.5 minutes.
Morris’ best stretch of the season came from Feb. 24-April 17 when he played in 23 games, starting all of them, and averaged 11.0 points and 6.4 rebounds on 47.1% shooting and 37.6% from deep. Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis were out for a majority of that span, so Morris’ production helped the Lakers stay afloat to maintain a playoff spot.
Morris is set for free agency once again this offseason although he has already made it clear that he wants to return to the team.
Given his unselfishness after never complaining about his role, it would be surprising to see Morris not return to the Lakers on another one-year deal with a slight raise this summer. He provides toughness and shooting, which the team greatly lacked this past season.
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