The Detroit Pistons and Markieff Morris agreed to a contract buyout that will allow Morris to become a free agent, Shams Charania reports. Charania also reports that the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to sign him in free agency.
The move comes as a surprise as Morris had a player option next season that would have paid him $3.3 million. With Morris’ elevated play this season, he was likely to opt out of the deal and attempt to sign a more lucrative offer in free agency.
An injury, however, could derail his plans and he longer has that multi-million safety net just in case.
The move just makes it more confusing that Morris wasn’t dealt at the trade deadline. Multiple reports indicated teams were interested in trading for Morris and it seems like the Pistons could have received at least a decent second-round pick in exchange for the veteran forward.
Heck, even a low second-round pick is useful as it can be added to a deal so the team could take on a player.
Instead, though, Morris along with fellow veterans Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway and Derrick Rose were kept at the deadline. Jackson previously received a buyout and signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. There is no indication whether Galloway, on an expiring contract, might be next in line to receive a buyout that would allow him to sign on with the team of his choice.
It is unlikely that Rose, who has played extremely well this season and is signed on a bargain contract with the Pistons for next year, would be bought out.
Morris was having a bounce back season with the Pistons, averaging 11 points and 3.9 rebounds and shooting nearly 40% from three as a reserve big man.
The forward did not play in the team’s first game back from the All-Star break and coach Dwane Casey said it was not health related. It seems as if Morris and the team were finalizing the buyout agreement and didn’t want to risk possible injury in a meaningless final game with Detroit.