As feared, Marcus Morris reneged on his verbal agreement to sign with the San Antonio Spurs in order to go to the New York Knicks for more money next season. After the Morris fiasco reached its conclusion, the Spurs quickly signed Trey Lyles, a 23-year-old power forward who has spent two seasons with both the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets. The contract with Lyles is said to be worth $11 million over two years, with the second year only partially guaranteed.
Why Did Marcus Morris Renege?
One rumor is there was miscommunication between Morris and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
The more likely scenario involves money. The Spurs were offering Morris a two-year, $20 million deal. After Reggie Bullock failed a physical for Knicks, New York was able to offer Morris approximately $15 million next season.
How Much Does It Hurt The Spurs That Marcus Morris Went Back On His Word?
A lot. The signing of Morris gave the Spurs a puncher’s chance in the Western Conference. His ability to defend both forward positions, stretch the court on offense and play with competitive fire gave San Antonio a few elements that have been in short supply in recent seasons.
Moreover, while maneuvering to open up money to acquire Morris, the Spurs basically gave away Davis Bertans, arguably their deadliest three-point specialist. If the Spurs would have known Morris wasn’t signing, they would have simply signed DeMarre Carroll with their mid-level exception and kept Bertans.
The Spurs obviously weren’t championship favorites with Morris on the roster but his presence on the team — if only for a season — would have allowed San Antonio to match up well with the top teams in the West, most notably the Los Angeles Clippers.
Did Trey Lyles Come Completely Out Of The Blue?
No. Lyles was a big man I thought the Spurs could target heading into the offseason. As Morris’ commitment unraveled, he was the most obvious Plan B for San Antonio.
He’s a 6-foot-10, 235-pound big who can stretch the floor, as he is a 33.1% career three-point shooter who attempted 8.8 threes per 100 possessions last season with the Nuggets. There’s little doubt he’s talented, as he was a lottery pick back in 2015 and was traded by the Jazz to the Nuggets in the deal that netted Utah the rights to Donovan Mitchell.
Is Trey Lyles Comparable To Marcus Morris?
Not really. They both primarily played power forward last season and they both like to shoot three-pointers. That’s about where the comparison ends, though.
Morris is a hard-nosed player, a fierce competitor and someone who relishes the opportunity to take on challenges. Lyles, on the other hand, has the opposite reputation. He’s regarded as a soft player with a questionable motor who doesn’t enjoy getting his hands dirty. And while Morris can guard both forward positions, Lyles is strictly a power forward.
That said, Lyles and Morris do look similar if you compare Lyles’ statistics from two years ago and Morris’ stats from last season.
But in terms of the intangibles they bring to the table, these two guys are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Does Trey Lyles At Least Have Fewer Character Question Marks Than Marcus Morris?
But Lyles whined on a podcast about having to practice every day while with the Jazz. He also didn’t like how the Jazz practices were three hours long.
So, it’s a battle between a guy who might care too much and a guy who might not care enough.
Will The Spurs Boycott Rich Paul And Klutch Sports?
A lot of the blame of Morris reneging on the Spurs falls at the feet of his agent and Klutch Sports — and rightfully so. What Morris, Paul and Klutch Sports did to the Spurs was at best unprofessional. At worst, it was the latest bit of shady behavior from the fledgling outfit. Players have reneged before but not quite like this.
That said, the Spurs don’t appear to be holding any grudges because Lyles’ agent is, you guessed it, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
Why the Spurs were willing to work with Paul again after the falling out with Morris isn’t too difficult to piece together. First of all, Lyles was the best target still available in the shallow free agent pool. Secondly, it’d be dangerous to boycott Klutch completely, considering Dejounte Murray is a client.
San Antonio had to swallow its pride and feed the mouth that bit them.
What Does San Antonio’s Starting Lineup Look Like Now?
Morris was likely to start at power forward between DeMar DeRozan at small forward and LaMarcus Aldridge at center. It’s unlikely Lyles would start — particularly early in the season. If he plays well, he has the skill-set to start on this Spurs squad, however he needs to prove himself first. Beginning in practice.
To tip off the season, expect to see either Rudy Gay or Carroll starting at power forward.
Is There Any Way This Works Out Positively For The Spurs?
Sure. Lyles is a talented. He’s also considerably younger than Morris. If he lives up to the potential the Jazz and Nuggets failed to get out of him, he’s someone who could be a vital part of a playoff team.
Unfortunately, Lyles panning out to that degree has to be considered unlikely. And even if he does, it’d probably take a year in San Antonio before he’d start paying dividends.
Are The Spurs Done For The Summer?
It’s possible. All their roster spots are accounted for at the moment.
However, it makes sense to continue to try to improve the team. It’s possible the Spurs could find a trade that would help more closely replace what Morris would have brought to the table.
Plus, with how well Lonnie Walker IV played during summer league, San Antonio could try to reorganize their roster in order to open opportunities for the young guards. For example, trading away Marco Belinelli would help open the door to extended minutes for Walker, Murray and Derrick White.
In the meantime, the Spurs and their fans are left to lick their wounds and bemoan the way Morris and his representation operated over the last few days.