Philadelphia Native Chooses Arch-Rival over Sixers in Free Agency

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers blocks the shot of Markieff Morris #8, formerly of the Miami Heat.

The sports world loves a good homecoming. It’s one of the reasons why pro-am competitions have done so well this summer — players either returning to the gyms where their career began or those giving their current fanbases a free show. And the Philadelphia 76ers have had some success this summer sending their players to pro-ams.

Earlier this month, for example, De’Anthony Melton showed out in the Drew League finals, snatching the championship and finals MVP.

Tyrese Maxey, for his part, turned up for the Philadelphia-based Danny Rumph Classic. The tournament has seen past Philly-natives-turned-pros like Markieff and Marcus Morris return home for the event.

But, alas, not every player is destined to return home.

That’s true for Markieff Morris, the Philadelphia native and free agent. On Tuesday, August 30, Shams Charania of The Athletic announced that Morris was heading to Brooklyn on a new deal. The free agent had also been linked to the Sixers recently by NBA insider Marc Stein.

“Free agent Markieff Morris has agreed to a one-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, pending physical exam,” Charania tweeted.

Morris Was Recently Linked to the Sixers

Over the weekend, Morris’ name was linked to several teams, including the Nets and Sixers, by Stein.

“The Nets indeed have registered the most serious interest in signing Markieff Morris, league sources say,” explained Stein on Sunday in his personal blog The Stein Line, “but Philadelphia has also explored the feasibility of signing the Philly native. Brooklyn, in particular, has a need for a veteran who can command the respect of mercurial stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Is Morris, who turns 33 on Sept. 2, that player? Word is he was not afraid, in his time as a Laker, to speak his mind in a locker room that housed James and Anthony Davis.”

From the Sixers’ perspective, signing Morris might have been more trouble than it was worth. That’s no knock on Morris, more so on the Sixers’ roster as presently constructed.

As it stands, the Sixers have all 15 roster spots filled out. Thus, any addition would require cutting or trading someone currently rostered. A trade is fairly straightforward business, but a free agent acquisition? Not so much.

Nonetheless, Morris would have fit the “enforcer” type player that Joel Embiid thought the team needed this season. Fortunately, the team went out and picked up PJ Tucker in free agency, who also very much fits that bill.

Sixers Missing out on Top Targets?

Sure, the Sixers’ pursuit of Morris would have involved complicated roster gymnastics. But their failure to land Morris is part of a recent trend of the team seeing their top targets join rivals.

Last week, Patrick Beverley signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Earlier in the summer, however, the Sixers were linked to Beverley by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.

And now, with Morris joining the Sixers’ latest mortal enemy in Brooklyn, the trend seems to be continuing.

Perhaps, however, it’s just that the Sixers’ interest in the two players was muted. After all, President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey has been busy this summer, signing players that should go a long way towards improving the Sixers’ depth.

No matter what, the Sixers will have ample opportunity to show Morris what he missed out on by choosing the Nets over the Philly.

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