San Antonio Spurs: Breaking down Marcus Morris’ contract fallout

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Marcus Morris #13 of the Boston Celtics reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 20, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 20: Marcus Morris #13 of the Boston Celtics reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 20, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs officially rescinded their contract offer to free agent forward Marcus Morris Sr, and signed Trey Lyles as his replacement.

Verbal contract agreements are rarely broken in the NBA with interesting cases like the DeAndre Jordan saga popping up in recent years. Once the Woj tweet it out to the public, deals are thought to be as good as done with the player and team’s word taken as fact. The latest team to deal with a faulty verbal agreement is the San Antonio Spurs, who were dumped for a more lucrative suitor by forward Marcus Morris earlier in the month.

San Antonio suffered because of the negligence of Klutch Sports front man Rich Paul, a close personal friend of LeBron James and the agent set to negotiate Dejounte Murray’s looming contract extension. After several years of working alongside each other, Morris and Paul reportedly parted ways over the weekend with no clear-cut answer as to why.

The same report by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News also claimed that Morris turned down a three-year, $41 million deal from the Los Angeles Clippers before deciding on the Spurs and later settling for the New York Knicks. It seems like Morris’ primary goal is to double down on his 2018-19 campaign and earn a larger contract next summer, when the free agent market is shallower.

Forward Marcus Morris tells @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium on reopening his free agency and signing with the Knicks on a one-year, $15M deal: “I had to make this decision based on the best situation for me and my family. This is no knock on the Spurs. I have respect for them.”

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 11, 2019

Morris didn’t mean for the Spurs to take this situation as a jab against the organization, but rather took an opportunity elsewhere that he feels is better for his family. Since San Antonio only had its $9.1 million mid-level exception to spend, the Spurs could only offer Morris a limited contract as opposed to the Knicks’ outright $15 million in one season.

For New York, this deal doesn’t seem to make much sense considering the fact that they signed three other power forwards in Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis, who make a combined $42 million next season. Whether or not it was dirty for the Knicks to pursue a player who already had agreed to a contract is up for determination, but they didn’t outright break any rules.

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Consider this another blip by this major market suffering under the steady hand of its dimwit owner. After striking out on every major free agent after a year full of chatter, Scott Perry will roll out a lineup consisting of R.J. Barrett, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox and a legion of average power forwards to consume the playing time of the Knicks’ most exciting young big man in Mitchell Robinson.

For the Spurs, who were poised to implement Morris into the rotation with heavy minutes, a pivot was in order and the team brought along Trey Lyles on a two-year deal. He’s 23 years old and aligns closer with the timeline of this team’s emerging young core but won’t have nearly the impact that was expected from Morris. Lyles, who is also represented by Paul, will need to prove himself as a worthy rotational player by giving his all on defense and making the right plays on offense.

There’s no way around this – the Spurs got the short end of the stick in this Morris situation. They moved off of homegrown sharpshooter Davis Bertans with the intention of replacing him with Morris but ended up with Lyles instead. Unless his game drastically changes and he begins competing at a high level consistently, he’s no better than Bertans, who was at least a constant offensive threat with excellent chemistry off of DeMar DeRozan.

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And so, the small market team suffers once again. Despite the theatrics of this contract fallout, the Spurs are poised to fight their way back into the playoffs once again.

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