This summer, the Los Angeles Lakers will try and negotiate new contracts for some of their most important players. Because believe it or not, 11 of the 17 players they have on their roster this season will be free agents or have the option to test free agency.
Fortunately for them, it sounds like they already have an inside track on at least one of them: Markieff Morris. In a recent interview with J. Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times, Morris expressed an interest in staying in Los Angeles, preferably until he retires:
Markieff played key minutes in the bubble for the Lakers on the way to his family’s first NBA championship and helped the team this season as it trudged through injuries to stars LeBron James and Davis. He may be outside the rotation in the playoffs, but when the Lakers were trailing at halftime in the play-in tournament against the Warriors, it was Markieff and fellow veteran Jared Dudley who spoke up to inspire the second-half push.
“I hope this is the last stop of my career,” Markieff says. “I would do anything to get back. Playing with LeBron and AD in L.A. and winning multiple championships? That would be a perfect ending.”
Morris first signed with the Lakers as a free agent in the post-trade deadline buyout market in Feb. 2020 and his impact was almost immediate. After just 14 regular season games with his new team, Morris averaged 5.9 points per game while shooting 42% from 3-point range in the postseason last year.
When Morris’ contract expired, there were fears that his reliable shooting at the 4 would put him out of the Lakers’ price range, but he took less money to re-sign in Los Angeles on a one-year contract. While things could change between now and the end of the season, it sounds like he’s interested in doing the same thing this year. The only difference is that, this year, Morris taking the veteran’s minimum likely wouldn’t be him taking a “discount” as much as it would be him re-signing for his market value.
There might be one last opportunity for Morris to boost his value if Davis misses time with the groin strain he suffered on Sunday — the Lakers will need him as depth if their star is limited or out — but it would take something special for him to get more than the veteran’s minimum in free agency at this point.
Morris could feasibly get more playing time on another team for the same amount of money — if not slightly more — but he seems really happy to be in Los Angeles, where his twin brother Marcus also plays for the Clippers. Given the financial constraints the Lakers will be working under in free agency, that should be music to Rob Pelinka’s ears.