NBA: Why did Marcus Morris Ditch the Spurs for the Knicks in Free Agency?

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Marcus Morris ditched the Spurs to sign with the Knicks in NBA free agency, but it might have been a smart move.

When word spread that Marcus Morris was going to sign with the San Antonio Spurs, it looked like a major win for one of the league's most consistent franchises. At the very least, Morris would provide depth to a front line led by LaMarcus Aldridge, and if needed, he could enter the starting lineup and fit well in the system.

Things didn't turn out the way the Spurs hoped. Instead of signing their two-year contract for $20 million, Morris signed a one-year deal with the New York Knicks for $15 million. Let’s look at the contract and determine what made Morris change his mind.

A chance to win a championship

If Morris signed the Spurs contract, would it have made them an instant championship contender? Of course not. However, the team was a Game 7 away from going to the second round last year as a No. 7 seed, so there was bound to be some improvement. Morris had a very good season in Boston, putting up 13 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 38% from 3-point range.

Marcus Morris had the chance to join one of the best franchises in the NBA, but the opportunity with the Knicks was too good to turn down.

Joining the Knicks

Marcus Morris (left) ditched the Spurs to sign with the Knicks in NBA free agency, but it might have been a smart move.
Marcus Morris signed to play with the Knicks for the 2019-20 season. | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Knicks offseason hasn't gone as planned. At the start of free agency, they had hopes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joining the team. Both of those superstars decided to go with the other team in NYC, the Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks were able to pick up Julius Randle, which is a sneaky good deal given Randle's production in New Orleans and Los Angeles.

The Knicks also signed Taj Gibson, a veteran who can also provide depth in the frontcourt. What made Morris choose the Knicks? We think it has a lot to do with the scheme. David Fizdale enters his second season as head coach of the Knicks, and he always looks at big men as the focal point of his offense.

Morris can easily match the numbers he put up last season, and he could have a career year if given the opportunity in New York.

Why choose the shorter deal?

There are a few reasons we think Morris chose a one-year deal with New York over a two-year deal with San Antonio.

The first is he will have more opportunities to put up points with the Knicks than the Spurs. If you aren't getting much playing time, then putting up points will always trump being a part of a winning culture.

The next reason is he can secure a larger payday in a weaker free agency class in 2020. Free agency in 2019 was crazy, and 2021, when a lot of the big-name 2019 free agents can opt out of their current deals, figures to match it.

Here's the current list of top free agents in next year's class:

  • Gordon Hayward
  • Anthony Davis
  • Kyle Lowry
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Otto Porter, Jr.
  • Andre Drummond
  • Hassan Whiteside

You can easily slot in Morris as the next big name free agent in 2020. There's no reason why he can't get a three or four-year deal worth $80-100 million if he has a big season in New York.

We expect Morris to have a solid season and end up with a max contract at the start of the 2021 season, or close to it. And he'll do so with a new agent after he fired Rich Paul this offseason.

Do you think Marcus Morris made the smart move?

After looking at the reasons Marcus Morris would choose the Knicks over the Spurs during free agency, do you think he did the right thing?

Although we were initially skeptical about it, we believe it will help him financially in the long run. In one year, the Knicks will pay him close to what the Spurs would have paid over two seasons, and he as the chance to be a marquee free agent again in 2020.