The Boston Celtics were forced to watch Marcus Morris walk this summer, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.
Morris’ bizarre offseason culminated with the veteran forward landing a one-year deal with the New York Knicks. Bringing back Morris always was going to be an uphill climb for Boston, but the franchise reportedly still worked through the logistics and made somewhat of a run.
“Speaking of Celtics free agents, the question was asked, couldn’t the Celtics have re-signed Marcus Morris because they had his Bird rights if they were willing to pay the luxury tax?” The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn writes. “The answer is yes and no. Because the Celtics signed Kemba Walker into salary-cap space and did not execute an even sign-and-trade with Charlotte for Terry Rozier, the Celtics had to renounce Morris’s rights to bring Walker on. The Celtics would have loved to have re-signed Morris and they tried to give themselves salary-cap flexibility by working on sign-and-trades with Brooklyn for Kyrie Irving and Philadelphia for Al Horford. But as expected, any deal with conference rivals can be difficult and both teams asked the Celtics for more draft pick compensation than they wanted to give. The teams didn’t want to take back players because they were already getting a max player in Irving and a near-max in Horford, so, to help the Celtics’ cap, Brooklyn and Philadelphia wanted first-round picks, something the Celtics were not willing to do. Perhaps the Celtics could have worked out a sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell with the Nets, but they already had their eyes on Walker.”
It turns out Morris was an awfully sought-after player this summer. The 29-year-old originally agreed to a two-year deal in San Antonio before leaving the Spurs at the altar in order to sign with the Knicks. He also — perhaps unknowingly — passed on a lucrative offer from the Los Angeles Clippers, which just might have prompted the firing of his agent Rich Paul.
Morris, given his toughness and strong locker-room presence, would have been a great piece for a Celtics team moving forward with its young core. But given the other exits the C’s endured this offseason, you can’t blame them for doing what they needed to do in order to bring in an All-Star.
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