Gregg Popovich blasts 'unprofessional' Marcus Morris departure that left Spurs 'blindsided'

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Gregg Popovich told the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/san-antonio/" data-ylk="slk:Spurs">Spurs</a> side of the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4895/" data-ylk="slk:Marcus Morris">Marcus Morris</a> saga, and he wasn't pleased. (Reuters)
Gregg Popovich told the Spurs side of the Marcus Morris saga, and he wasn't pleased. (Reuters)

In July, free-agent forward Marcus Morris reneged on a verbal agreement with the San Antonio Spurs to sign with the New York Knicks.

After making the deal with the Knicks, Morris told The Athletic that he has a good relationship with the Spurs and kept them in the loop as he made his decision.

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“I have a good relationship with those guys and I have so much respect for [head coach] Pop [Gregg Popovich], [general manager] RC [Buford] and [assistant GM] Brian Wright,” Morris told The Athletic. “The first thing that I did when I knew I would be going another direction, I called and made sure they knew.”

Popovich is not pleased

We didn’t hear from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich about the decision. Until Monday.

His account paints a less cordial picture of the transaction that left his team scrambling to make roster moves. The Spurs had traded promising young forward Davis Bertrans to open up the mid-level exception to make room for Morris under the cap.

Popovich made clear that he wasn’t pleased about making that sacrifice for nothing during San Antonio’s media day.

“It was more than difficult to lose Davis,” Popovich said. “Let’s just say that was an unfortunate situation that was handled unprofessionally on a couple of different levels. We made that move to make the signing that we did and got blindsided.”

Bertrans, a 26-year-old 6-10 forward, played 21.5 minutes per game last year in San Antonio, averaging 8 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point distance. He was a reliable shooter Popovich could depend on off the bench. Bertrans signed with the Washington Wizards.

“Davis was a special player as we all know, and he was young and getting better and better,” Popovich said. “So, yeah, we hated losing him.”

When Morris backed out, the Spurs made a deal with former Denver Nuggets forward Trey Lyles instead.

Morris doesn’t shed much light on situation

Morris had a chance to address the issue again on Monday during Knicks media day. He didn’t offer much in terms of clarity.

“My free agency didn’t go as planned,” Morris said. “A lot of the specifics came off a lot of unknown — unknown situations. I kind of committed very early.”

He went to explain that the Knicks “embrace guys like myself” for his reasoning of joining New York — not exactly a crystal clear account of what prompted his decisions.

Morris and his agent Rich Paul split up after the ordeal, but it’s not clear what prompted the pair to go their separate ways.

What is clear is that the Spurs felt jilted. And rightfully so.

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