Free agent F Markieff Morris is finalizing a deal with the Miami Heat, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 3, 2021
The Lakers were in a good position to re-sign Morris because they had his Early Bird Rights, but after they signed Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza to one-year contracts, it didn’t make much sense for them to bring Morris back, nor did it make sense for Morris to return. That’s especially true if you share the belief that Jared Dudley is coming back to Los Angeles for a third season, which seems like a safe bet.
If we’re going with the assumption that Dudley is coming back, the Lakers only have one roster spot left. They could leave that open with the hope that someone will make a strong case during training camp, or they could offer it to Wesley Matthews, who would be a nice cherry on top of their offseason given their need for perimeter defense and shooting.
There’s an opportunity for the Lakers to open another roster spot by waiving Alfonzo McKinnie’s non-guaranteed contract, but McKinnie’s contract doesn’t become fully-guaranteed until January 2022, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them hold onto him until then.
As for Morris, he’s someone that probably could have helped the Lakers, especially given their need for shooting, but the minutes weren’t expected to be there for him this season — if they were, it’s unlikely he would have turned the Lakers down. In May, he expressed a desire to retire in the purple and gold.
While Morris might not get his wish, he’ll always be a part of Lakers history because of his contributions during the team’s 2019-20 championship run. Whenever he ultimately returns to Staples Center, he should get a warm reception. Once a Lakers champion, always a Lakers champion.