The Knicks Sacrificed Their Current Heartbeat For Future Life: Analysis Of The Marcus Morris Sr. 3 Way Trade

image via Clutch Points

The Trade

The New York Knicks Receive

  • Maurice Harkless (Via The Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Los Angeles Clippers 2020 1st Round Pick
  • The Right To Swap 2021 1st Round Picks With The Los Angeles Clippers (Can Only Swap Their Own 1st, Can’t Swap The Mavericks Pick)
  • The Detroit Pistons 2021 2nd Round Pick (Via The Los Angeles Clippers)
  • The Rights To Issuf Sanon (Via The Washington Wizards)

The Los Angeles Clippers Receive

  • Marcus Morris Sr. (Via The New York Knicks)
  • Isaiah Thomas (Via The Washington Wizards)- Has Been Waived

The Washington Wizards Receive

  • Jerome Robinson (Via The Los Angeles Clippers)

What Did The Knicks Give Up?

Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Marcus Morris Sr.

The Knicks lost their top scorer, premier shooter, go-to man down the stretch, and veteran leader. Morris Sr. has made a major impact on the players and the entire organization throughout his short stint in New York. He will notoriously be known for pressing the Knicks to play like “dogs” and hitting a clutch 3 catapulting the team to a victory over the Dallas Mavericks, in Kristaps Porzingis’ return to Madison Square Garden. Morris Sr. led the Knicks in points per game (19.6), three-pointers made per game and percentage (2.7 and 43.9%), and free throws made per game (3.8). His scoring/shooting abilities will be severely missed by the Knicks, who are amongst the worst shooting teams in the league (26th in FG%, 28th in 3P%, 30th in FT%, and 30th in TS%).

Along with losing the 4th best shooter in the league from three (percentage wise), the Knicks will be losing the heart and soul of their roster. Morris Sr. brought grit, tenacity, and toughness to a Knick team that was and still is, searching for consistency and an identity. Morris Sr. may not be on the team any longer, but his presence prior to the deadline will continue to affect New York’s locker room and play positively. He will be an unrestricted free agent at this season’s end. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks make another run at Morris Sr. in July (or on June 30th), after he potentially wins the championship he deserves with the Los Angeles Clippers.

What Did The Knicks Gain?

Maurice Harkless

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Maurice Harkless’ shot chart from this season displays he rarely shoots from mid-range. Harkless mainly elects to shoot around the rim, while also spacing the floor from three (mainly from the corner).
Maurice Harkless’ career shot chart shows his struggles from mid-range and the right-corner three. Harkless throughout his career has taken the majority of his shots around the rim.

Statistics (Via His Time With The Clippers This Season, Averaging 22.8 Minutes Per Game)

Positives

  • 51.6% Field Goal Percentage (On 4.3 Attempts Per Game)
  • 37% Three-Point Percentage (On 1.5 Attempts Per Game)
  • 4 Rebounds Per Game
  • 1 Steal Per Game
  • 14.5 Assist Ratio
  • 60.6% Field Goal Percentage From Inside 10 Feet
  • 0.9 Turnovers Per Game

Negatives

  • 57.1% Free Throw Percentage (On 0.8 Attempts Per Game, Career 61.2% Free Throw Shooter)
  • 1 Assist Per Game
  • 26.7% Three-Point Percentage When Open (Closest Defender Is 4-6 Feet Away, Career 32.6% Three-Point Shooter In General)

Strengths

  • Size (6-7, 220 lbs, 7-2 Wingspan)
  • Finishing Around The Rim (Through Contact, Mostly Dunks & With His Right Hand)
  • Quality Passer (Great Decision Maker, Rarely Turns The Ball Over)
  • Plays In Control (Uses Multiple Speeds)
  • Only Takes Good Shots (100% Of His Three-Pointers This Season, He Was Either Open Or Wide Open- No Defender Within 4 Feet Of Him)
  • Cutting Off-Ball
  • Tone Setter On Defense (Utilizes His Length, Footwork, & Athleticism)
  • Forcing Turnovers & Bad Shots On Defense (Tight Coverage & His Length Makes Oppositions Uncomfortable)

Weaknesses

  • Three-Point Shooting
  • Free Throw Shooting
  • Shooting Off The Dribble (62% Of Shots Were Without Dribbling, Shooting 40% On Pull-Up Jumpers)
  • Ball Handling (Not Tight & Mainly Drives With His Right Hand)
  • Not Physical When Rebounding (Relies On His Length/Athleticism)

Review

Maurice Harkless isn’t going to blow anyone away with his offensive game. He makes the right play, makes a decent percentage of his open looks, and drives to the basket when he’s open. Harkless earns his money on the defensive side of the ball. He can guard positions 1-5, generates turnovers, and has the ability to protect the paint. Harkless will surprise people with his ability to make “highlight” plays, through dunks and blocks too. The 26 year old, forward, will have a chance to impact the Knicks on and off the court with his experience. Harkless has played serious minutes in big games, most notably last season, when he matched up against Paul George for the majority of the Trail Blazers vs. Thunder playoff series.

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The Rights To Issuf Sanon

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Statistics (Via FIBA Europe Cup, Averaging 24.4 Minutes Per Game In 8 Games)

Positives

  • 47.9% Field Goal Percentage (59.6% Two Point Percentage)
  • 77.3% Free Throw Percentage
  • 1.5 Steals Per Game

Negatives

  • 25% Three Point Percentage
  • 2.1 Assists Per Game
  • 2.9 Personal Fouls Per Game
  • 3 Turnovers Per Game
  • -2.9 Plus/Minus

Statistics From The Previous Two Years He Played In The Summer League With The Washington Wizards (Averaging 13.8 Minutes Per Game In 8 Games)

Positives

  • 1 Steal Per Game

Negatives

  • 22.7% Field Goal Percentage (On 2.75 Attempts Per Game)
  • 21.4% Three-Point Percentage (On 1.75 Attempts Per Game)
  • 33.3% Free Throw Percentage (On 0.75 Attempts Per Game)
  • 0.62 Assists Per Game (Didn’t Record An Assist In 4 Games Played During The 2019-20 Summer League)

Strengths

  • Athleticism (Quick Feet, Fast One-Lane Sprinter, Very Agile, Explosive Off 1 Foot, Impressive Lateral Quickness)
  • Finishing With The Right Hand
  • Pushing In Transition
  • Sleight Of Hand On Defense
  • High Motor

Weaknesses

  • Ball Handling
  • Turnovers
  • Finishing With His Left Hand
  • Shooting From Three/ Jump Shot In General
  • Fouling On Defense (Over Agressive)

Review

Issuf Sanon is a very raw prospect. His size (6-4, 185 lbs) coupled with his incredible athleticism, makes him an intriguing player. He thrives in transition, while getting into the paint often. His issues offensively surround his ball handling and shooting. He currently isn’t crisp and savvy enough as a ball handler to play point guard in the NBA. Sanon’s shooting stroke is still a work in progress, making it very hard to play him as a shooting guard. Sanon’s numbers with the Wizards in the Summer League display him being very passive and shooting poorly (he played shooting guard for the majority of these minutes). However, Sanon has much better numbers in the FIBA Europe Cup where he presumably played point guard. Sanon’s strengths of pushing the ball in transition and getting into the paint (leading to easy baskets or assists) seem to be negated by playing off-ball. Defensively, Sanon has all of the intangibles to be a lockdown defender. He is quick and strong, while displaying an impressive ability to generate turnovers. Sanon can improve defensively by displaying more poise and not over-pursuing steals, leading to fouls and open looks. Issuf Sanon is an athletic ball of clay, waiting to be molded. The Wizards planned on turning him into a prototypical 3 & D wing, as seen around the league. I believe that would be a poor decision by the Knicks once he joins the team in the U.S., likely in next year’s Summer League. Sanon has the upside to be a solid backup point guard, where his size and explosiveness will give him the largest advantage. When it comes down to it, ball handling and shooting will either be why in a few years, Sanon’s name is recognizable or it isn’t.

The Right To Swap 2021 1st Round Picks With The Los Angeles Clippers

The Knicks will only swap picks with the Clippers if they finish with a better record next season (very unlikely). Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams, and the rest of the gang will be very hard to top next year. On the bright side, the Knicks will definitely be drafting before the Clippers in the 2021 draft (barring any more trades).

The Detroit Pistons 2021 2nd Round Pick

This is going to be a very valuable draft pick. The Detroit Pistons seem to be destined for a down season next year after moving Andre Drummond for Brandon Knight, John Henson, and a 2nd round pick. The Pistons will be headlined by Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose (possibly traded this summer), Reggie Jackson (unrestricted FA this summer, must resign), Sekou Doumbouya, Luke Kennard (possibly traded this summer), and Christian Wood (restricted FA this summer, must resign). The Pistons do own their 2020 1st round pick, but don’t currently own another 1st or 2nd round pick in this year’s draft. The Pistons are currently 19-36, 23rd in the NBA.

High 2nd round picks, in general, are valuable assets. This is due to the significant drop in salary (but minimal drop in talent), between the final picks in the 1st round compared to the first few of the 2nd. It is worth noting, the 2021 draft class is expected to be much stronger and deeper than this year’s draft class. Thus, this draft pick holds higher value and can be utilized to draft a cheap, quality, player or be used as an asset in a trade.

Comparable Deals (Recent Trades Similar To The Situation The Knicks Were In, Moving Marcus Morris Sr.)

  • The Memphis Grizzlies traded Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat (2020)

The Grizzlies traded Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, & Solomon Hill for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, & James Johnson.

Along with trading Andre Iguodala, the Grizzlies gave up two veteran, role players on expiring contracts. In return they obtained promising 23 year old, Justise Winslow. Winslow is making $13 million annually with 3 years remaining on his deal. Winslow is still recovering from a back injury and is certainly a risk (has missed 113 of 353 career games- 32%). The Grizzlies also received the poor contracts of Dion Waiters ($12.1 million annually with 2 years remaining) & James Johnson ($15.3 million with 2 years remaining).

The Grizzlies decided to flip the veteran, Johnson’s overpriced contract for Gorgui Dieng and his equally bad, contract ($16.2 million annually with 2 years remaining). They have already waived Waiters, yet will have to pay his entire salary for the remainder of his contract. Memphis was forced to move Iguodala as he was sitting out the season unless they traded him to a contender. It can be argued getting a young, talented, player such as Justise Winslow is a big win for them. However, Winslow does come with lots of risk and the Grizzlies had to attach two good vets on expiring contracts, along with taking on two bad contracts, to get the deal done. From the outside, it appears the Grizzlies could’ve done better, but it completely hinders upon Winslow’s production and health from here on out. It is also worth noting this summer doesn’t have many attractive free agents and both Waiters & Dieng will be coming off the books in 2021. Both players could be moved as assets due to their expiring contracts in a year from now, as well.

  • The New Orleans Pelicans traded Nikola Mirotic to the Milwaukee Bucks (2019)

The Pelicans traded Nikola Mirotic for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson, & four 2nd Round Picks- 2019 via Denver, 2020 via Washington & Milwaukee, & 2021 via Washington.

The Pelicans decided not to extend Stanley Johnson’s qualifying offer at the end of the season, making him an unrestricted free agent. Johnson proceeded to sign with the Raptors after only playing 18 games for New Orleans. Jason Smith played 2 games for the Pelicans and was eventually waived to make room for Christian Wood (about a month & a half after the trade). Thus, the Pelicans essentially hauled in four 2nd round picks and opened up some cap space from the deal.

The Pelicans drafted Jordan Bone with the Nuggets 2019 2nd rounder and traded him along with De’Andre Hunter, Solomon Hill, & a conditional 2023 2nd round pick for Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, & Marcos Louzada Silva on draft night. Time will tell how New Orleans utilizes the remaining three 2nd rounders from the Mirotic deal, but this seems to be a decent return for Mirotic (who currently plays in Europe).

  • The Brooklyn Nets traded Bojan Bogdanovic to the Washington Wizards (2017)

The Nets traded Bojan Bogdanovic & Chris McCullough for Marcus Thornton, Andrew Nicholson, & The Wizards 2017 1st Round Pick (lottery protected).

Brooklyn made a good trade in this case, due to them making most of the draft pick they acquired. After the 2016-17 season, Bogdanovic has shot over 40% from three and is currently averaging a career-high 21.2 points per game. He was going to be a restricted free agent that summer and the Nets could’ve possibly gained more value for him if they held onto him longer. However, the Nets acquired Andrew Nicholson on a bad contract (4 years, around $6 million annually) and Marcus Thornton. Nicholson averaged 3 points per game as a Net (playing in 10 of the final 25 games) and was later flipped for Allen Crabbe (another bad contract- took his player option of $18.5 million after the season, later traded along with two 1st rounders, yes two, for Taurean Prince & more importantly cap space for last summer). Thornton never suited up for Brooklyn, released after the deal was finalized. That late 2017 1st round draft pick turned into the 22nd pick of the draft. The Brooklyn Nets selected Jarrett Allen, their current starting Center and valuable asset (averaging 11.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game this season). Ultimately, Allen appears to have made the trade worth it for Brooklyn.

Review

The Knicks were in similar positions to the Grizzlies, Pelicans, and Nets in trading an expiring, talented, wing player at the trade deadline. Both the Nets and Grizzlies received a promising, young, player, but had to take on bad money. The Grizzlies had to take on two bad contracts, while giving up two good ones. The Nets took on one bad contract and utilized the 1st round pick well by drafting Jarrett Allen. New Orleans received no bad money and hauled in four 2nd round picks, but didn’t acquire a 1st or a player already in the NBA. Scott Perry and the Knicks not only managed to take on no bad money or add anyone else to the trade, but they netted a 1st round pick, a high 2nd round pick, the draft rights to Sanon who was a 2nd round pick last year, and Harkless, a veteran, wing, on an expiring contract. Comparing the net assets in all four of these trades, the Knicks seem to have made the best deal. However, this relies on the Knicks making the most of their cap space and draft picks in the future.

Losing the heartbeat of your team is never easy. Marcus Morris Sr. was the leader on and off the floor for New York. It remains to be seen how this will impact the Knicks, but moving Morris Sr. was necessary. The Knicks are in the stages of a rebuild, when acquiring assets is key. Flipping an expiring contract into multiple picks is a major victory and can be crucial for the team’s future success. New York will have their options open in the offseason, possibly resigning the Queens native and St. Johns product, Harkless, looking to sign Marcus Morris Sr. to another contract, or looking to spend their finances elsewhere. As for the draft picks, the Knicks have netted RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox as 1st rounders, along with Mitchell Robinson and Ignas Brazdeikis as 2nd rounders, in the previous two drafts. Barrett and Robinson are both clear home-runs and the Knicks will have more opportunities to swing for the fences, owning seven 1st rounders and five 2nd rounders, in the next 4 years. Bringing in more young, talented, players on rookie contracts will only help rise the Knicks trajectory.

No matter how you slice this move, the Knicks lost a lot in the short-term to gain a lot in the long run. Due to the Knicks current record and roster, the future is where their sights should be set. Now it is up to Leon Rose to make sure the Knicks make most of their future assets.

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