New York Knicks: Can Marcus Morris boost his trade value?

New York Knicks (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

What if Marcus Morris becomes a trade candidate for the New York Knicks later this season?

Signing Julius Randle was the biggest move of the summer for the New York Knicks. But another signing from free agency has outplayed the 24-year-old power forward.

Marcus Morris leads the Knicks in scoring at 18.8 points per game — a career-high mark — while Randle has to average 16.5 points. This could stick, especially with the lack of primary scorers on the roster. The ex-Boston Celtic has also shown the ability to close out games, including the dagger he hit to help the Knicks defeat the Dallas Mavericks, 106-103, on Nov. 14.

Nearly a player who signed elsewhere, Morris had a verbal deal with the San Antonio Spurs, which he reneged in early July, for two years, $20 million. Instead, he signed a one-year, $15 million deal with the Knicks, and he has been worth every penny. Where would the Knicks be without him?

RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson lead a young Knicks team. Morris doesn’t fit that exact direction, but he is a veteran leader for that locker room. How long will that last, though, if this team continues to stay out of the playoff mix? Its longevity depends on if the front office opts to make a trade before the February deadline.

Morris has already boosted his value with this strong early season performance, so if he does move, which teams make sense?

The Los Angeles Clippers are an interesting team for Morris. A deal involving second-year shooting guard Jerome Robinson and an expiring contract in Mo Harkless would be a deal worth negotiating. The Knicks get a raw, young player in Robinson and the Clippers receive a veteran to help with their quest for championship glory in 2020.

Morris playing along Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would be exciting to watch. Even featuring him in the second unit, with Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams, has the potential to thrill. The Clippers are already a team, so potentially adding the Knicks’ veteran will be something to look forward to.

The Houston Rockets are another logical option, given their lack of depth around James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but they do not have what the Knicks need: young players.

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Granted, there are a few Rockets in their early 20s, including Isaiah Hartenstein (21) and Chris Clemons (22), but no one worthwhile to take back.

The same goes for the Los Angeles Lakers, as a lack of young players will not help them if Morris becomes available.

A team like the Philadelphia 76ers can improve drastically with Morris, but an expensive, loaded frontcourt of Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Joel Embiid makes that unlikely to happen.

While the Sixers’ starting lineup is stacked, one flaw holding them back is their lack of bench depth. If Morris is willing to be a reserve, Philadelphia will be dangerous in the Eastern Conference.

Finally, that leaves the Milwaukee Bucks, another team with championship aspirations. Morris would be the perfect fit with the Bucks, potentially centering a deal around 23-year-old power forward DJ Wilson, Ersan Ilyasova and his non-guaranteed contract for 2020-21 and a few salary fillers near the bottom of the payroll to match up.

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If Morris maintains this play, he will likely not be with the New York Knicks past the trade deadline. He might be an MSG favorite, but moving to a postseason team by February makes sense. The only question is: what uniform Morris will be wearing in April?