It’s never a New York Knicks offseason without a bunch of disappointment and a good amount of controversy. This past offseason was filled with both for Knicks fans.
The offseason started with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant rejecting the Knicks in favor of crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets, The controversy did not end there as the Knicks acquisition of Marcus Morris was marred in controversy.
The Knicks signed Morris to a one-year deal worth $15 million over the offseason, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
Prior to Morris signing with the Knicks, he had verbally agreed to a two-year $20 million contract with the Spurs, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears from ESPN. The Spurs cleared cap space to sign Morris under the mid-level exception before he chose to go to New York.
The contract was agreed to during the NBA’s moratorium period so he never officially signed with the Spurs, giving the Knicks time to swoop in.
While situations like Morris’ are rare they are not unprecedented. DeAndre Jordan stayed with the Clippers in 2015 even though he originally agreed to sign with the Mavericks.
Morris’ decision clearly upset those around the Spurs organization. In October Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about Morris and took the opportunity to insult the Knicks.
The interaction went like this.
Reporter: “Did the Knicks act unprofessionally in the Marcus Morris situation?”
Popovich: “Who signed him?”
Reporter: “The Knicks.”
Popovich: “There you go.”
The reality of the situation is that the Knicks were unethical. Marcus Morris had verbally agreed to a contract with the Spurs and that did not stop the Knicks from stealing Morris out from under them.
The Knicks legally did nothing wrong but they played in a moral gray area to get a player they wanted and rightfully, got criticized for it.
With that said, the deal may have been morally incorrect but the reality is it was just good business.
Marcus Morris has arguably been the Knicks’ most consistent player in a season that lacks consistency.
Morris leads the team in scoring with 19.3 points per game as of Tuesday, is second in rebounding with 6.3 rebounds per game and is in the top five in both steals and blocks. Morris has been the Knicks’ most consistent player from the free-throw line shooting 84 percent.
The Knicks are the worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA shooting only 67 percent, five percent behind the 29th ranked Charlotte Hornets.
Morris has also been a valuable addition to the locker room. His constant energy on the floor is contagious to those around him.
Morris has also served as a mentor to younger players. Many have noticed Morris’s relationship with 21-year old point guard Frank Ntilikina who has made a noticeable improvement from his first two years in the league and seems to have come into his own.
All in all, the Marcus Morris deal from a PR and reputation standpoint was not a good look for the Knicks, from a pure basketball standpoint it was a savvy offseason addition that was well worth the criticism.