Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
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.
That perceived mutual interest is relevant for several reasons.
In terms of the trade deadline, teams interested in Morris will probably be less likely to make a significant offer to New York since the chances of that team re-signing him are diminished.
A few months ago, several NBA executives speculated that Morris could land a late first-round pick in a trade. There's no reason to believe Morris' trade value has slipped since then. He's averaging 19 points per game and shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc.
He seems like the kind of player who can add depth to a contending team.
The Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams that have registered interest in Morris recently, sources say.
Because Morris is on a one-year contract and the Knicks are a rebuilding team, there's a sentiment from some fans on social media that New York should trade Morris in exchange for that first-round pick.
That argument is sound. Acquiring a first-round pick for a player entering free agency is logical. But there are other factors at play. One: the Knicks would likely have to take on future salary if they trade Morris, who is making $15 million this season. The New York Post reported that New York doesn't want to impact its future cap space in a Morris trade.
The other is that the 2020 NBA Draft, in some NBA talent evaluators eyes, isn't terribly strong. If that analysis is correct, the value of a late first-round pick in the upcoming draft decreases.
Still, for the Knicks, the idea of acquiring an asset in exchange for a player you may not re-sign makes sense.
But if New York intends to re-sign Morris, it can use the non-bird exception to sign him to a deal that starts at $18 million and is as long as four years. The Knicks can exceed the cap to re-sign Morris because of his non-bird exception, but it's mostly a moot point because Morris' cap hold for the summer of 2020 would be $18 million.
While I understand the sentiment of those who say the Knicks have to trade Morris, there is a counter-argument to consider.
As SNY reported in early January, there are members of the organization who see Morris as an important part of New York's rebuild. They've been impressed by his play and his influence on the younger Knicks, which included calling a players-only meeting the morning of David Fizdale's firing.
In early January, Morris said that he would have interest in re-signing with the Knicks.
"That was the reason why I made the decision to come here, going back on the decisions I made, along with a lot of other things," Morris said. "I'm here and I enjoy this organization, I enjoy the players they got here and I want to be here long term."
There's another factor to consider with Morris and the Knicks: the market. Morris is a veteran who seems unshaken by the added scrutiny that comes with playing in New York. Team president Steve Mills has said in the past that the Knicks have factored in a player's ability to handle New York, so to speak, in personnel decisions.
I'm not going to pretend that I know Morris well. But he seems like the kind of player that isn't rattled by the increased attention (via media and social media) that comes with playing in New York. As Mills noted in the past, that's an attribute that the franchise values. And it makes sense. It doesn't seem like every player has the mentality to block out any outside media/fan noise that comes when the Knicks struggle.
Morris, of course, has garnered negative attention this week for his post-game comments about Jae Crowder having 'female-like' tendencies after Crowder broke what some consider an unwritten basketball rule on Wednesday. Morris was fined $25,000 for his role in the altercation with Crowder and for the 'offensive and derogatory' comments made to media after the game, the NBA said. For more context surrounding the incident, click here. Also, as with any discussion of players the Knicks might sign this summer, it's worth pointing out that there is uncertainty around the future of the front office in light of the club's poor record.