The Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t the only team courting Markieff Morris following his buyout last week.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, and Toronto Raptors are among a host of other teams who hoped to sign the free-agent big man before he agreed to terms with the Thunder on Thursday.
Markieff Morris had an aggressive market over the past week — with pursuits from the Thunder, Rockets, Nets, Raptors and several others. OKC received the commitment from Morris on Thursday. https://t.co/nTKdlSJSKX
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 14, 2019
Morris, who spent the last three-and-a-half seasons with the Washington Wizards, was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans along with a future second-round pick last week in exchange for veteran swingman Wesley Johnson.
Washington had previously dipped close to the luxury-tax line after trading Otto Porter to the Chicago Bulls, and got under it by shedding $2.5 million worth of salary in the Morris trade.
It’s not immediately clear where the eighth-year veteran will fit in Oklahoma City’s rotation. Jerami Grant has thrived this season starting at power forward, and backup center Nerlens Noel has quietly been one of the league’s most disruptive defenders after signing on the cheap with the Thunder last summer.
Morris would slide nicely into Patrick Patterson’s spot in the rotation as Oklahoma City’s third or fourth big man, depending on matchups, but may desire a bigger role after spending most of his career as a starter.
Other teams, including his hometown Philadelphia 76ers, could have offered Morris more playing time. He’d have been a great fit behind Clint Capela with the Rockets, spacing the floor as a small-ball five and occasionally switching onto opposing ball handlers.
Clearly, though, Morris believes signing with the Thunder was his best option to finish out the season before hitting the free-agent market again next summer.