In a move that has been described by some as a ruinous assault on, uhh, confidence in the transaction market, Marcus Morris has officially reneged on his verbal agreement to join the San Antonio Spurs in free agency, in order to sign a more lucrative contract with the New York Knicks.
Morris had originally agreed to a two-year deal worth $20 million with the Spurs, with the second year a player option. The free agency moratorium gave him a chance to reconsider, and the chance to make more money next season ultimately pushed him to New York. Morris’s last contract—a four-year, $20 million deal signed with the Pistons in 2014—eventually made him one of the more underpaid veterans in the NBA, certainly as he developed into an important rotation player on a playoff Celtics team. He can be forgiven, then, for prioritizing cash over competitive concerns in a short-term deal signed in his age-30 season. This new contract will pay Morris handsomely to be a veteran contributor on a bad Knicks team, and allow him to get back into unrestricted free agency next summer, when the market will be significantly less top-heavy with superstar players.
The Knicks will have to figure out how to find minutes for $108 million worth of power forwards next season, now that they have all of Morris, Julius Randle, and Bobby Portis under contract. Meanwhile the Spurs, who restructured their deal with DeMarre Carroll and traded away sweet-shooting Dāvis Bertāns in order to make space for Morris, have reportedly shifted their gaze to young Trey Lyles, recently of the Denver Nuggets. Unbelievably, the transaction market appears to have survived the ordeal.