Philly native, NBA vet eyeing Sixers as possible destination originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Sixers' signing of James Harden is a matter of when, not if.
The only reason Harden hasn't signed with the Sixers since the opening of free agency and his decision to decline his player option is that President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey is busy perusing the open market and the trade routes to see if there are other ways to improve this team before locking Harden in to a commitment.
While Eric Gordon has been the primary name bandied about as a Sixers target (via trade), it doesn't look terribly promising at the moment.
So let's look elsewhere - to perhaps another veteran who spent last season playing for the Miami Heat, a la new Sixers member P.J. Tucker?
Enter Philadelphia native, 11-year veteran, and current free agent Markieff Morris. Morris confirmed in a social media conversation with a fan on Thursday night that he'd love to return home for a season and play for the Sixers:
Morris also said he's currently a free agent "by choice" rather than because of a lack of interest, and that he's going to "sign soon."
It obviously takes two sides to get a deal done, but it's noteworthy that Morris would like to play for the Sixers. He's done basically everything he set out to do as a pro - he's made over $50 million, he's spent a decade in the league, and he's won a championship. Pretty good!
And he can still ball, so now it's about fit and a mutually beneficial relationship.
So... does Morris make sense for the Sixers as they fill out the roster?
It depends on a few things: the future of fringe guys like Isaiah Joe and Furkan Korkmaz, the viability of Eric Gordon joining the Sixers at the trade deadline, and whether the team views Morris as a productive and worthwhile addition.
Coming off a prolonged injury he suffered last season, Morris' value might not be terribly high. I'd imagine he could be had for the veteran minimum, which for his service time will be just a bit under $3 million.
Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Morris has played 136 games and shot 43.2 FG% / 34.9 3P% / 76.4 FT% while averaging 8.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. His defensive on/off stats have wobbled in recent years, though some of that might just be relative to his teammates on those teams.
Morris is not exactly an Earth-shattering addition but he would bring playoff experience, a relative ability to shoot from deep, and most importantly physicality and toughness to a team that is clearly emphasizing physicality and toughness for next season.
We'll see what Morey prioritizes and whether any sort of market materializes around Morris, but if he's willing to play for cheap we might have something here.