Entering free agency, the Detroit Pistons had a gaping hole at the small forward position. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Cartier Martin could play there in a pinch. Quincy Miller was likely the most qualified to play the position if needed, though it might not be his best position. Then there is Stanley Johnson who the Pistons drafted this year and won't be simply handed the starting role.
Then Stan Van Gundy did Van Gundy things.
Phoenix has traded Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger to Detroit for future picks, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015
Thanks mostly for the Phoenix Suns trying to clear cap space to sign both Tyson Chandler and LaMarcus Aldridge this summer, the Suns needed to dump salary and fast. In one trade, the Pistons received three small forwards, one of which is starter quality. And the price?
The Pistons will send the Suns a 2020 second-round draft pick. So yes, the Suns are clearing salary cap space.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015
For one draft pick that will likely contain no players who played in the NCAA this year or even those who are being recruited this year. Also, IF Stan Van Gundy can work his magic on the Pistons, at that time, the pick could very well be in the last 10 picks of that draft.
But why does the price matter? The Pistons went into free agency with roughly $19 million to spend on a starting small forward and two backup centers. Reports said the Pistons were going to go after two unrestricted free agents and then two restricted free agents to fill the starting small forward position. Danny Green and DeMarre Carroll were probably the two unrestricted free agents. It is possible that Tobias Harris and Draymond Green were the two restricted free agents.
It is important to note that the reports came out before free agency started. Why is that important? Because it was unlikely that the Suns were going to have any chance to woo Aldridge. But since they were in that position, Van Gundy was able to make a deal to help both teams.
Free Agency opens and Danny signs first, a deal worth just over $11 million a year, to stay in San Antonio. He had a meeting scheduled with the Pistons, but cancelled it after the Spurs made their offer. Then Carroll signs with Toronto for $15 million a year. This was after the Pistons had offered him $14 million a year (number of years uncertain).
Then Draymond re-signs with Golden State after talks were supposedly halted. He'll get just over $16 million per year. The Orlando Magic, who made a 4 year, $80 million dollar offer to Paul Millsap, publicly stated they would not match a max offer to Tobias Harris. He eventually re-signed for $16 million a year. Also, I heard some fans wanting to try and get restricted free agent Jae Crowder. He stayed with the Celtics for five years at $7 million a year. Another three point specialist, who hasn't really played small forward, I heard grumbles about was Wesley Matthews. Thanks to the DeAndre Jordan saga and him going back to the Los Angeles Clippers, Matthews will get over $17 million a year from the Dallas Mavericks. Morris will make right around $5 million a year the next four years.
So how bad did the Pistons "strike out"? While Morris does not offer any elite skills, he can adequately do the things the Pistons need him to do. Here are the side-by-sides of Morris vs. other small forwards (or guards) the Pistons were targeting and some the fans would have liked to see the Pistons target.
The above table shows that Marcus Morris is very similar to most of the players in per 36 stats. Also, it shows that he's been more consistent throughout his career than some of the other players. Essentially, he is who he is. DeMarre, Danny and Wesley are likely who they are at 28 years old. Tobias has the most room to grow at only 22 years old. But just like Draymond and Jae, Marcus is only 25 years old -- the same age as our dearly departed Greg "Moose" Monroe.
Also, you have to consider the system that Marcus is coming to vs. the other players. Take a moment to read this wonderful analysis by Kirk Goldsberry at Grantland. Spot up shooters are getting paid heftily right now, but there are examples where going to the wrong system has killed their numbers. Marcus is coming to a system where he'll likely be the recipient of kick passes and won't have to create much, meaning his numbers could very likely go up.
Last year Morris made 112 three point attempts. He was assisted on 90.2-percent of those. Carroll was assisted on 98-percent of his 149 three point makes. Danny was assisted on 94.1-percent of his, Draymond on all of his, Harris on 96.6-percent of his, Crowder on 96.9% of his, and Wesley on 87.3-percent of his. However, the definition of an assist is not the same as when someone catches and shoots it.
Morris' catch and shoot threes are not elite. He only shoots them more frequently than Crowder and Harris. He also only makes them more frequently than both of them. However, he only played in fewer minutes per game than Crowder. Given more minutes, and a different system such as the Pistons system is, those chances are likely to go up.
Morris is not likely anyone's first choice to be the Pistons starting small forward. However, adding any of the other ones were not likely the make the Pistons contenders this year anyway. But what Morris is is a cheap, young player with a chip on his shoulder that is adequate at all aspects of the game that we need -- just long enough for Stanley Johnson to get his feet wet. And who knows, his $5 million a year contract could be a great trade chip in the future to add more depth to the Pistons.
Don't sour on Morris yet.