It’s not hyperbole to suggest that Markieff Morris just might be the best buyout signing in NBA history. Outside of Boris Diaw joining the San Antonio Spurs in 2012, Morris joining the Lakers is one of the only such moves in recent years that has directly helped a team secure a championship.
The good news is, then, that he’s rebuffing interest from the Clippers and returning to help the purple and gold defend their title, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Free agent Markieff Morris has agreed to a minimum deal to return to the Los Angeles Lakers, source tells @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 23, 2020
Markieff by virtue of a 1-yr deal with the Lakers is considered One 1-Year Bird and has an implicit no-trade this season— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) November 23, 2020
Morris actually broke the big news on his Twitter account:
Run it back! #Lakeshow— Keef Morris (@Keefmorris) November 23, 2020
Morris’ averages of 8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in the playoffs may sound fairly pedestrian, but he allowed the Lakers to maintain the same physical, tough identity they’d cultivated all year while also letting Anthony Davis play center, a position he destroyed overmatched opponents of all sizes at in the postseason. Morris isn’t a star by any stretch of the imagination, but the versatility he gave the Lakers to match up against any opponent was absolutely critical to their title run. He was the final piece they needed to really make everything click.
Morris also may have sacrificed more than just about any other Laker to make it all possible. Some players on this roster took smaller deals to come to L.A., but Dwight Howard wasn’t going to get more on the open market last offseason than he did with the Lakers, and no one else that was in the Lakers’ rotation gave up as much money as Morris, who gave back $4.5 million in guaranteed money — his entire remaining salary for last season and declining a team option for this one — to take a buyout from the Detroit Pistons and get a chance to compete for a championship.
All that displayed admirable commitment to winning, but it wouldn’t have been surprising to see him try and cash in elsewhere after securing his ring. Instead, he is sacrificing money again — and a chance to rejoin his twin brother, Marcus — to help Los Angeles defend the title it just secured last month. In a season in which the Lakers will need depth and the ability to toggle between all kinds of weird lineups more than ever, they may have an even greater need Morris than they even did previously.
Fortunately for them, he’ll be back to help them figure everything out all over again.
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