The Los Angeles Lakers were fairly immediately reported as the “frontrunners” to sign Markieff Morris after the Detroit Pistons bought him out on Friday, and it seems they never surrendered that lead, as the veteran forward is planning to sign with them when he clears waivers, according to Sham Charania of The Athletic.
Morris has been sold on a backup power forward role with the Lakers -- with more minutes for Kyle Kuzma at the three now. Sets up Markieff vs. Marcus Morris in Los Angeles. https://t.co/iSIFzCy62F— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 21, 2020
Morris still has to officially clear waivers, which will take 48 hours from when he was bought out. However, most of the time teams will not claim a player who wants to go somewhere else out of a desire to not piss off their agents.
The Lakers have a full, 15-player roster currently, and as a result will have to cut someone to make room for Morris. That someone will reportedly be DeMarcus Cousins.
It should be noted that Markieff is generally considered the worse of the two Morris brothers — his brother, Marcus, was recently traded to the LA Clippers — but he still might be able to help the Lakers. He gives them a bigger body to throw at larger wings like Kawhi Leonard and/or Giannis Antetokounmpo, and while no one can stop those players, Morris might be able to slow them down a bit, in theory (at least if he becomes more engaged defensively while playing for a winner):
Markieff Morris is ranked 68th out of 93 power forwards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus this season (-0.87). Kyle Kuzma is ranked 72nd (-0.94).— Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) February 21, 2020
On the other side of the ball, Morris is averaging 11 points per game while shooting 39.7% from 3-point range this season, meaning he could space the floor for the Lakers’ bench units, and his shooting numbers are even better when digging in a little bit further.
Some Synergy stats on Markieff Morris:— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) February 21, 2020
- 67th percentile in spot ups
- 80th percentile in catch and shoots
- 72nd percentile on no dribble jumpers
Morris’ shooting numbers this season:— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) February 21, 2020
C&S threes (165 attempts): 41.8%
Open (78 attempts): 42.3%
Wide Open (91 attempts): 38.5%
This would improve the struggling offense of the non-LeBron units - putting a floor-spacing big next to AD rather than Dwight or JaVale. https://t.co/5zluAQTjb8— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) February 21, 2020
Also, fun fact: He and his brother have matching tattoos and have inspired conspiracy theories that sometimes they swap places. So there’s that.
There are reasons to be skeptical of this addition, but ultimately it’s possible that — similarly to Tyson Chandler last season — Markieff comes into a winning situation and becomes somewhat revitalized, playing harder and doing things he just wasn’t doing while playing for a lottery team. Plus, the chance to potentially go up against his twin brother in a much-anticipated playoff series should be a great motivating factor as well.
Or at least that has to be the Lakers’ hope here. We’ll see if things work out that way.
This story will be updated with more information. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.