Why Knicks may keep Marcus Morris in trade deadline surprise

MILWAUKEE — Marcus Morris will miss his fifth straight game Tuesday against the Bucks with a neck injury, but the veteran may have plenty of time in a Knicks’ uniform to make up for it despite the Feb. 6 trade deadline approaching.

According to an NBA source, some members of the front office are leaning toward holding onto Morris at the deadline — unless they get back a star-type player in a large package.

The source said a minor Morris deal that would net a late first-round pick and force them to take on a non-expiring contract is not an attractive option at this juncture. The Knicks prefer not to diminish their 2020 or 2021 cap space in any deal.

With Morris making $15 million this season, a third team would likely be needed to make the math work. The source said several playoff teams have interest in Morris.

Earlier in the season, the Knicks carried a different thought process. If they fell out of the playoff race by the deadline, they were prepared to net a first-rounder for Morris or a prospect and a second-round pick.

Marcus Morris
Marcus MorrisCorey Sipkin

As the season wore on, Morris has been invaluable as a clutch scorer, leader, and defender with a much-improved 3-point shot. Meanwhile, Kevin Knox, who plays Morris’ position, has struggled in his second season.

The franchise can now envision Morris as part of the future and would attempt to re-sign him when he becomes a free agent. Knicks general manager Scott Perry is close to Morris’ new agent, Raymond Brothers of Roc Nation.

Morris is second in the NBA in 3-point percentage (46.9) and leads the team in scoring at 19.1 points.

The Knicks are desperate to add a star player to their roster but Detroit center Andre Drummond doesn’t make much sense. The Pistons approached the Knicks but Drummond can become a free agent this summer so it is unnecessary to give up young pawns.

Morris hinted during last week’s trip the Knicks have always been open to signing him to a longer deal if he panned out. Morris has been steadfast about not wanting to be traded as a rental property.

“That was the reason why I made the decision to come here, going back on the decisions I made,” Morris said. “I enjoy this organization. I enjoy the players they got here and I want to be here long term.”

Morris reportedly turned down a three-year, $41 million offer from the Clippers last summer — a package which is less per season than he’s making now. However, if he continues to shine, Morris should command more than $15 million per year this summer.

The Knicks, too, are trying to figure out how Morris has blossomed into posting star-like numbers at age 30 after being known as mostly a role player. The Knicks scouts loved how he fit into those Celtics teams but he never previously shot better than 38.1 percent from 3.

“The NBA is about opportunity,” Morris said on the team’s recent road trip. “Being able to get out there and just show [it]. It took me a longer time to get on a team where it was needed.”

For more on the Knicks, listen to the latest episode of the “Big Apple Buckets” podcast:

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