After playing a pivotal role for the Los Angeles Lakers in last year’s NBA Finals, Markieff Morris was relegated to a reserve role in Frank Vogel’s crowded front court rotation this season, which resulted in him having worst season in recent memory.
Morris made his feelings about Vogel’s decision to move him down the pecking order well-known at the start of the season, but on Friday, after the Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs, Morris praised his head coach for the way he managed the Lakers’ abundance of talent this season.
“I think coach did the best he could,” Morris said. “There were a lot of moving parts this year. We was trying to put the best team on the court. Trying to get guys rhythms. It was just tough, man, we had a lot of players, a lot of vets on this team, a lot of guys that should have been playing or whatever it might be, but I think coach did a great job. And anytime you’re the coach of the Lakers, there’s a lot of pressure, and you’re coaching the best players in the world, so he handled the pressure well.”
Morris will likely find himself in a similar position if he returns to the Lakers next season, but that clearly hasn’t turned him off to the idea of re-signing, as he reiterated that he hopes Los Angeles is the final stop of his career.
“There’s nowhere else I would rather be,” Morris said. “I feel like this is home for me ... This is definitely where I want to be, man. I think we’ve got a good shot of running it back next year. I think I will be here man. If everything is lined up the way it’s supposed to, I’ll be back next year.”
Thanks for the love and the support from #LakersNation this year! It was good to see you guys back in the staples! I know we came up short but we got some unfinished business!! I’ll just leave it at that! #Lakeshow— Keef Morris (@Keefmorris) June 6, 2021
It’s unclear exactly what Morris meant by “if everything is lined up the way it’s supposed to,” but if he was referring to the monetary value of his next contract, that shouldn’t be an issue. The Lakers will have Morris’ Early Bird Rights in free agency, so they can give him a sizable raise over multiple years if they think he deserves it.
There are internal free agents that the Lakers will almost certainly prioritize over Morris, like Alex Caruso, Dennis Schröder and Talen Horton-Tucker, but if Morris wants to come back (which he clearly does), then the front office should do whatever they can within reason to bring him back. Not only does he seem to get along with the core group of players, but his shooting is something they could always use in spurts at the 4 and 5.
So, unless there’s a player that’s a clear upgrade over Morris that’s willing to buy into the same role that he’s expected to have next season, he should be back.