Philadelphia 76ers: Signing Markieff Morris is a bad idea

(Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
(Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /

Had the Maimi Heat bought Markieff Morris out of his contract earlier this year, the Philadelphia 76ers would have jumped at the opportunity to sign him.

Sure, his season was in a weird spot after entering the most talked about fight in recent NBA memory in his push-fest with Nikola Jokic and his missed 64 of the last 71 games of the season as a result but still, after having a clear deficiency in terms of frontcourt talent through the first few months of the 2021-22 NBA season, the Sixers would have jumped at the opportunity to add Morris to their roster, even if he’s a Cowboys fan, unlike his brother.

His toughness would have earned him an instant fan in Joel Embiid, his age would have earned him a spot in Doc Rivers’ rotation, and his availability likely would have ended the Paul Millsap and/or DeAndre Jordan experiment before it even began.

But now? In July of 2022 after the draft, free agency, and the Summer League have all passed? Now even Markieff Morris’ reported interest in landing back home in Philadelphia isn’t enough to guarantee him a roster spot, as Jason Dumas mentioned in his reporting. Unless the Philadelphia 76ers open up a roster spot in the not-too-distant future- and frankly, even if they do – there’s little reason to add Morris to a power forward position that is already overloaded with talent.

The Philadelphia 76ers have more forwards than they know what to do with.

Heading into the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers’ biggest need was a 3-and-D forward who could hit 3s with volume and efficiency and then defend an opposing team’s best wing player.

Whether technically classified as a small or power forward, landing a player who could log high-volume, high-pressure minutes both in the regular season and especially in the playoffs alongside Joel Embiid and James Harden just made too much sense to pass up, even if the paths to such an opportunity were rather limited.

And yet, with some luck, a desire to secure another first round pick by Memphis Grizzles GM Zach Kleiman, and Harden’s willingness to take whatever payout Daryl Morey needed to fill out the roster the right way, it worked out; Philly landed De’Anthony Melton to solve their backcourt 3-and-Defensive issues, P.J. Tucker to solve their front court 3-and-Defensive issues, and both Danuel House and Trevelin Queen as a sort of high-low set of wings who should combined fill at least one playoff rotational spot next spring.

Factor in the pre-existing presence of Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and Georges Niang, who combined to play an average of 83.1 frontcourt minutes per game during the regular season last fall, and the prospects of filling out the 96 forward minutes in any given game isn’t too hard to imagine.

So where, I dare to ask, would Markieff Morris fit into that rotation? Would he start at the four or play meaningful minutes over Tucker, Harris, House, Niang, or even Thybulle? Frankly, the answer to that question is a resounding no.

No, at best, Morris would be the Sixers’ sixth-best forward behind that quintet and likely wouldn’t be able to play meaningful minutes at the three at this stage in his career. While Doc Rivers could always try him at the five, a role he has played in the past, that decision would only step in the way of Paul Reed‘s on-court development and would limit his roles, which will likely top out around 20 minutes a night when Embiid is healthy, even further than Coach Rivers surely wants it to be.

Tell me, after watching Paul Millsap and DeAndre Jordan steal away meaningful minutes from Reed for no reason other than their resume, does anyone want to see that happen again? If the Sixers really want another center after Charles Bassey‘s underwhelming stint in the Summer League, Hassan Whiteside is still available, and he’s a much better defender and lob threat than Morris at this stage of their respective careers.

Frankly, if Morris wasn’t a Philly native and didn’t explicitly want to play for the team, this wouldn’t even be a conversation; that’s how little of a need adding another power forward to the roster is.

What happens if Charles Bassey isn’t ready?. dark. Next

If Markieff Morris was a small forward, he’d likely be a priority in the Philadelphia 76ers’ plans; he’d have the height needed to defend any frontcourt player, the toughness needed to stay physical on the boards, and the ability to hit 3s at an average clip from the wings. Instead, he’s just another power forward who played behind P.J. Tucker in Miami and would likely be stuck in a similar spot if he traded in South Beach for South Philly. If 2021-22 taught us anything, it’s that roster parity is important, and signing veteran journeymen is a bad idea when a younger performer already on the team could play the same role, as Doc Rivers will go with the older guy every time.