Seemingly from the start of free agency the Los Angeles Lakers began to overhaul what looks to be the core of their roster heading into the 2020-21 NBA season.
Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka appeared to focus on younger talent after trading for Dennis Schroder, and reportedly agreeing to terms with Montrezl Harrell. Pelinka also managed to sign Wesley Matthews to replace Danny Green, as well as brought back Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on a three-year deal worth a reported $40 million.
While the main rotation looks to be set on paper, there is still the matter of filling out the margins as the Lakers could use another big man; Marc Gasol is now the team’s lone true center as he took the place of JaVale McGee.
Although undersized for the 5, Markieff Morris was a versatile piece for Los Angeles in the playoffs and allowed head coach Frank Vogel to play either big or small depending on the matchup.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Lakers and L.A. Clippers are both interested in signing Morris:
Both the Lakers and the Clippers are trying to sign Markieff Morris, league sources say
The free-agent Battle of LA has been a constant in this transactional frenzy. It’s clearly not over after Toronto signed Aron Baynes to replace Marc Gasol and fell as a viable Morris option
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 23, 2020
Morris originally signed with the Lakers after agreeing to a buyout with the Detroit Pistons. While Morris played sparingly in the Orlando bubble seeding games, he made his impact felt in the playoffs as he was able to slide up or down a position without sacrificing L.A’s physicality.
Because of the team’s current salary cap situation, they can only offer Morris a slight raise above the veteran’s minimum. Fortunately, the market seems to value the forward around the same price and it might ultimately come down to how much Morris wants to return and play for the defending champions.
It was previously reported Morris had interest in remaining with the Lakers.
How Pelinka could fill roster if Morris leaves in free agency
If Morris were to leave for another team in free agency, Pelinka would have to pivot to wing options as there are few players with his skillset.
Nicolas Batum is an ideal choice as the swingman has passing chops and defensive tools that would fit in Vogel’s scheme. The Lakers could also take fliers on players like Andre Roberson or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who have strong reputations as defenders.
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