Marcus Morris ‘brings level of respect’ to 8th NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled down the homestretch of the 2023-24 regular season, recording a 10-16 record since the NBA All-Star break.

The downward trend is not being blamed on the acquisition of former University of Kansas forward Marcus Morris, who signed a 10-day contract with his eighth NBA team in a 13-year career on March 18, then after that deal expired, reached agreement to remain with the Cavs through the rest of the 2023-24 season, including the playoffs.

Cleveland is 4-8 since the 6-foot-8, 220-pound, 34-year-old Morris joined the squad. Still on track to make the playoffs, the (46-33) Cavaliers have dropped four of their last five games and seven of 10 heading into the final three games of the regular season.

“He (Morris) just brings a level of respect that maybe five to 10 guys carry in this league,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said as quoted by the Akron Beacon Journal.

“There is a no-nonsense approach, a physicality that he’s allowed to play with, but then you match that with a skill set of his ability to create shots and put the ball in the basket. When he speaks, because he’s a quiet person, people listen, and we’ve had conversations just (last week). He spoke up, and you could tell his teammates were embracing and listening to what he had to say. That’s invaluable for us as we continue to grow and fight through this and try to take the steps that we’re looking for,” Bickerstaff added to the Beacon Journal.

Cavs center Jarrett Allen said Morris has provided a much-needed presence on the court, especially on defense.

“I feel like we’re a little more gritty (with Morris),” Allen told the Beacon Journal. “I know we still haven’t adapted fully to the grit that he brings, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Morris has appeared in 11 games with the Cavs. He’s averaged 5.6 points and 2.0 rebounds while playing 14.6 minutes per contest. The Philadelphia native averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 boards in 37 games with his hometown team, the 76ers, to open the 2023-24 season.

“The standings are so tight at this point, you want get as much homecourt advantage as possible,” Morris said. The Cavs at 46-33 have the fifth best record in the Eastern Conference. Indiana is sixth (45-34), followed by Philadelphia (44-35) and Miami (43-35). Ten teams in each conference are included in the playoffs, the final four teams in a play-in format.

“We’ve got to start fine-tuning and getting into a playoff mindset, of where it’s one game at a time, and approach the intensity as if we’re in the playoffs,” Morris stated.

Morris has been ejected from one game — a 115-92 win over Charlotte on March 25 — since joining the Cavs. He was banished to the locker room by the refs after elbowing the HornetsNick Richards in the jaw with 6:34 left in the second quarter.

“I’m trying to implement a no-dunk rule and all that type of stuff because going forward, we’re going to need that,” Morris said of the Cavs never allowing an opponent to complete a slam dunk. “There are a lot of bigs in the East and a lot of tough guys and a lot of tough games coming up. So I just want to just keep showing it, man,” he added of physical play and not backing down.

Morris, the No. 14 overall pick in the 2011 draft (by Houston), has appeared in 67 playoff games in his NBA career — one that has included time spent with Cleveland, Philadelphia, Houston, Phoenix, Detroit, Boston, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers.

For his career he’s averaged 12.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per contest.

“It’s just a mindset. I’ve just got to lead. I’m not getting kicked out of any more games, so we can dead that right now,” Morris told the Associated Press.

Morris believes he can help the Cavs’ cause in the playoffs. Cleveland didn’t make it out of the first round a year ago, losing to the New York Knicks, 4-1, in a best-of-seven series.

“I know the minutes could be slim, but I think it’s game by game, so I think some games I could play a lot just on the strength of bringing intensity but also my game,” Morris said. “Just check the numbers (he’s made 46% of his shots including 44% from 3 since joining the Cavs).”

Morris has a connection with fourth-year Cavs coach Bickerstaff, who was an assistant coach in Houston when Morris was drafted in 2011. He was a lottery pick after a junior season at KU in which he averaged 17.2 points and 7.6 assists per contest.

“I’ve loved Marcus obviously for a long time,” Bickerstaff told “And the reason why is because he’s old school NBA to me. He’s the NBA that we grew up watching and I have so much appreciation for where you win the trenches by any means necessary. If you’ve got to put a shoulder on somebody, you put a shoulder on somebody; if you’ve got to put a hard foul on a guy, you put a hard foul on a guy. There’s obviously no intent to hurt or injure anyone, but you make sure that people think twice about going toward your rim.

“And that’s the old school basketball that I was raised on and that I love so much. So, that’s part of the reason why he and I have that bond is because we have respect for that, and you can see his teammates and around the league people take notice when he speaks or when he’s on the floor. The league takes notice because they have a respect for him,” Bickerstaff added.

When asked by if he wished to bring an “attitude” to the Cavs as the playoffs near, Morris, the twin brother of former Jayhawk and current Dallas Mavericks forward Markieff Morris, said: “I think that’s just a given. When my name gets mentioned, attitude is behind that. So that’s a given.

“But there’s also a way to go about it. It’s not like, come in here and just be ‘rah-rah-rah.’ I actually try to build a relationship with guys, to see what guys are like, see which buttons to push. Because it’s not always about just being loud, it’s about actually knowing the game. And the biggest difference between me and a lot of these other loud dudes is that I can actually play. So, I’m not just coming in and just being loud. I’m trying to show by example on the court and off the court.

“I feel really fresh right now. This is the best time for me, because now when guys need a break, they’ve got a 13-year veteran that can come in, and it seems like it’s a big boost. So, my thing is just trying to be a boost to the team and help anywhere I can.”

He is convinced the Cavs despite their recent struggles can turn things around in the playoffs.

“With these young fellas? Yeah. We’ve got some guys, man. Now, it’s just about wanting it. Wanting it and bringing it every night and being able to get into that mindset,” Morris said.