The Los Angeles Lakers are going to look very different next season. Of the nine players from their championship-winning roster that entered unrestricted free agency on Wednesday, three of them have signed contracts with other teams: Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo. So far, the only player they’ve re-signed is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
That’s expected to change when the Lakers work out a contract with Anthony Davis, but there’s at least one other player that could return next season: Markieff Morris. According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Morris would like to stay in Los Angeles:
Free-agent forward Markieff Morris is interested in re-signing with the Lakers, which would give them another versatile player.
The Lakers would also like to have Morris back, according to Turner’s report from earlier this month, but they won’t be able to get into a bidding war for him.
Once the Lakers sign Davis and Caldwell-Pope to their respective deals, they’re expected to be just $6.9 million below the tax apron; something they can’t exceed because they hard-capped themselves by using their exceptions on Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Matthews. That means that they’ll barely have enough money to fill out their roster with veteran’s minimum contracts.
So, if Morris wants to re-sign with the Lakers for more than the veteran’s minimum, the Lakers would likely need to find a taker for JaVale McGee, who’s set to make $4.2 million next season. Doing so would allow them to give Morris 120% of his minimum salary using his non-Bird rights, and fill out the rest of the roster with veteran’s minimum contracts.
However, the $2.8 million the Lakers would be able to offer Morris still wouldn’t be more than the $3.6 bi-annual exception, which many contenders still have. If it’s a check Morris is after, Los Angeles might not be the place for him — or should I say, the Lakers might not be the team for him.
The Clippers can offer Markieff the bi-annual exception if they waive Joakim Noah and Justin Patton, and his twin brother Marcus just re-signed with the Clippers. It’s safe to assume he’d consider that option if it became available.
All that being said, it’s encouraging sign that that the Lakers and Morris seem to have mutual interest in getting a deal done. As long as Morris is willing to work within the Lakers’ tight parameters, he’ll have a place in L.A., especially after how much he helped them secure their recent championship.