It was less than three weeks ago that Detroit Pistons forward Markieff Morris put together a seven-game run that had front-office types around the league taking notice. Even with a clunker in the middle (two points on 1-for-5 shooting against Toronto), Morris averaged 14.1 points in that stretch, racking up 4.4 rebounds and, most important, making 46.2 percent of his shots from the 3-point line.
These, of course, are the kind of numbers typical of Morris’ twin brother, Marcus, the Knicks’ leading scorer and much-discussed trade target. But with the other Morris logging similar numbers, trade interest began to blossom—if, that is, the Pistons eventually began to crumble and pointed toward rebuilding.
That process has begun for the Pistons. And Morris, after missing seven games with an ankle injury, returned to the floor for Detroit on Saturday night, just in time to re-ignite the trade interest that was already percolating.
And because all roads lead to L.A., yes, both the Lakers and Clippers have interest in Markieff Morris, according to NBA sources. The Pistons are making the bulk of their veterans available ahead of the February 6 trade deadline and Morris is a strong candidate to be moved.
Pistons Looking at Overhauling the Roster
The team is investigating trades for center Andre Drummond and Morris might stick around long enough to see whether his contract is needed to help match a potential deal for Drummond.
For the season, Markieff Morris has averaged 10.8 points and 41.1 percent shooting from the field before his return from injury. He was limited by a neck injury last season but was a critical member of the Wizards’ playoff teams in 2016 and 17.
Markieff Morris would be a lot easier to move than his brother, because he signed a two-year contract worth just $6.5 million last summer, his value diminished by the neck injury. He has a player option for next season. For this year, he is making $3.2 million, a relatively easy deal to match for a small contract and a first-round pick.
Because he can become a free agent, though, teams would be reluctant to deal a first-round pick for Morris, even as he brings his floor-stretching shooting and the same sort of interior toughness that has made his brother a sought-after commodity. Markieff Morris is all but certain to opt out of his contract this summer.
Who’s Got Markieff Morris Interest?
Beyond the Lakers and Clippers, there is no shortage of contenders that would take an interest in Morris. The Rockets have been desperately trying to bolster their bench and Morris’ shooting makes him an ideal fit. The Mavericks, too, need to add floor-stretchers and have the Warriors’ second round-pick—which likely will be in the Top 34—as bait.
Also looking for a Morris-type player: the Celtics, who employed Marcus Morris in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The team has missed Morris’ toughness at times this season and bringing in Markieff Morris would be a decent enough facsimile.
But the Lakers are in need of shooters and Morris would fit that bill—though L.A. has no picks in either round for three years to offer and precious few young assets to give up.
The Clippers, badly in need of a power forward who can shoot, might be the better fit. They’ve been connected to Marcus Morris in other trade chatter but could come away with Morris by dealing away one a young player or two, like guard Jerome Robinson or some combination of Derrick Walton, Terance Mann or Mfiondu Kabengele.
Morris wasn’t great in his return—he missed his first seven shots once he was back on the floor—but he’s healthy again and ready for his spot on the trade rumor mill.