Markieff Morris solidified himself as perhaps the best buyout addition in league history last season when he made an immediate impact on the Los Angeles Lakers championship run. However, one of the downsides of being a productive buyout addition is that the player immediately becomes a free agent after the season, and now has a real market of suitors.
As the Lakers went through their offseason, making lofty moves that pinned them right up against the NBA’s hard cap, there started to be those that worried that Morris may not be back with the team. He was actually one of the last to re-sign with L.A. during free agency, taking a veteran minimum contract to stay with a team he seemed to love playing for.
Even though Morris went into the 2020 offseason thinking he would get a larger offer from the Lakers, he knew he wouldn’t be able to turn it down a return to the team to defend the title even though he had better offers on the table, according to Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group:
It’s an interesting comment, especially since Morris was under the impression this offseason that he would get a bigger offer from the Lakers than a veteran’s minimum. He called it “unfortunate” that the Lakers, who are just barely under the hard salary cap this season, could not offer more and acknowledged that other teams were. But when he weighed the pros and cons, he couldn’t justify going anywhere else.
“I would rather come back home (to L.A.) where they know me,” he said. “We talked about getting more money, and it was supposed to be that way, but even so, the Lakers just fit me best. It’s just a perfect fit for me.”
Normally, a comment like this would cause controversy because Morris said he wished they offered more. However, the Lakers’ salary cap situation legitimately prevented them from offering above a minimum contract.
This is likely what swayed Morris to take less money for a better situation, as he knew it wasn’t due to a lack of respect for his abilities. And while Morris started the season in and out of the rotation, he has proven his value during the Lakers stretch of games without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
During the playoffs, he should play a pivotal role as a power forward next to Anthony Davis at the center position. Much like he did last season, his biggest value comes in the most important games.
The Lakers also now have his early bird rights so can give him a bit of a raise if they want to re-sign him again this offseason.
Kuzma unsure of Lakers closing lineup when healthy
The Lakers are one of the deepest teams in the league. With that said, they’re likely going to need some sort of consistency in a closing lineup when they get healthy.
Kyle Kuzma gave it his best shot, but was unsure of what that would look like. “Obviously it’s gonna be usually AD and Bron and then whoever’s really hot, whoever’s shooting, whoever’s defending, three guards, whatever. So it’s hard to really look at that now but we kind of know the formula of what we want to get to with a healthy closing lineup.
“But that remains to be seen so far this year with not a lot of playing time and really cohesiveness and a consistent closing lineup. Even when those guys were healthy we shuffled in and out, testing things.”
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