markieff morris

2020 NBA free agency: 6 bigs the Sixers could target this offseason

2020 NBA free agency: 6 bigs the Sixers could target this offseason

Another big man may not be high on the priority list for the Sixers this offseason, but a lot can change between when/if the season resumes and when next season starts.

Will the Sixers try to move Al Horford’s contract? Does the team trust Norvel Pelle to take on a bigger role next season? Would Kyle O’Quinn consider returning after he reportedly asked to be waived?

Here are six bigs that could fit the Sixers in free agency depending on how everything shakes out.

Marc Gasol

Gasol is most known around these parts for being a thorn in Joel Embiid’s side. A former Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol is big, smart and physical — a combination that has caused Embiid serious difficulty. He’s not the offensive player he was in his prime, but he can still shoot it (40.2 percent from three), pass it (3.4 assists) and is an excellent screen setter.

At 35, it will be interesting see what kind of offers Gasol will get. The only scenario in which the Sixers would likely be able to make it work is if they successfully trade Horford and his massive contract. Is it worth taking a shot on Gasol with the team’s mid-level exception? With the Sixers having other pressing needs, it’s a tough call. Gasol would make an excellent Embiid backup and mentor.

Aron Baynes

Baynes had a solid run in Boston and was having a strong season in Monty Williams’ system in Phoenix. The Sixers were the first team to experience Baynes’ evolution as a three-point shooter in the 2018 playoffs. He was hitting 35 percent on over four attempts a game before the 2019-20 season was suspended. He also has proven to be a solid post defender and screen setter.

This is going to be all about what Baynes’ preferences are. If he wants to get paid like a starting center, the Sixers aren’t the team for him. If he’s willing to accept a backup role to Embiid on a lesser deal, there’s a possibility. It seems more likely Baynes could find a better situation, but he’d be a solid option for the Sixers if he can’t.

Alex Len

Len hasn’t lived up to the status of being the fifth overall pick, but he’s become a solid rotational NBA big. His career numbers per 36 minutes are solid: 14.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks. Though he struggled to hit threes this season, he’s had some success for a big (33 percent for his career).

Still just 26, there could be a team that views Len as having a higher ceiling. Being so young, he also could value playing time and money over being a reserve on a contender. Like Baynes, if he can’t find a better situation, the Sixers could do worse in a backup center.

Noah Vonleh

Vonleh is another top-10 pick that hasn’t quite panned out but has shown he can be a serviceable NBA player. After a strong campaign for the Knicks in 2018-19, Vonleh had a tough year for the Timberwolves. He was eventually shipped to the Nuggets in that crazy four-team deal ahead of the trade deadline.

Signing Vonleh would be similar to when the Sixers signed O’Quinn this past offseason. He won’t have a definitive role but could be a nice insurance policy if there are injuries and Pelle struggles. Though he’s only 24, the price shouldn’t be high given his struggles in Minnesota this season.

Dario Saric

If you’re reading this, you should know all about this guy. Saric hasn’t been the same player since he was dealt to the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade. Still, he’s played a solid role for Williams in Phoenix. Saric has flashed the combination of skill and grit he did here, but his lack of athleticism has limited him.

Saric is a true four. Though you could get away with using Saric as a small-ball five in certain lineups, you wouldn’t want him back there for an extended period of time with a true NBA center. Saric did love his time here and played the best basketball of his NBA career. He's a restricted free agent so the Suns would likely have to rescind his rights for the Sixers to have a chance. If the price is right, you can’t rule out a reunion.

Markieff Morris

The Philly native was having a good year in Detroit before being bought out and signing with the Lakers. He’s struggled with his shot during his eight-game stint in L.A. but was hitting just below 40 percent of his threes with the Pistons. Morris plays with an edge and could bring that physical style and attitude back home.

Morris could be repetitive with Mike Scott already signed for next season. Though Scott struggled this year, he’d come on a bit before the season was suspended and looked more like the player we saw during last year's playoff run.

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Markieff Morris has reportedly agreed to buyout — would he fit with Sixers?

Markieff Morris has reportedly agreed to buyout — would he fit with Sixers?

The trade deadline has passed, but an opportunity for the Sixers to improve their roster may still exist.

Philly native Markieff Morris and the Pistons have reportedly agreed to a buyout, per Shams Charania of the Athletic and Stadium.

Charania also cites the Lakers as the “frontrunner” and the Raptors as another team that has shown interest. Markieff’s twin brother Marcus was traded from the Knicks to the Clippers just before the deadline.

With that said, the Sixers could have a level of interest. Morris could provide a little of what Mike Scott did last season but has been unable to duplicate in 2019-20. Morris is a tough veteran who is having a career year shooting wise, hitting 39.7 percent of this threes.

The Sixers don’t necessarily have a role for Morris right now, but the team is also depending on two sort of wild cards in 22-year-olds Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle. They’ve both been up and down this season and it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from them in the postseason. 

With the 30-year-old Morris, you could have a stabilizing presence. It wouldn’t be that difficult for the team to make it work roster wise. They could simply waive Kyle O’Quinn, who’s been relegated to fourth on the depth chart at center behind Joel Embiid, Al Horford and Norvel Pelle.

For any player to be available for the playoffs, they must be on the team’s roster by March 1.

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2020 NBA trade rumors: Sixers 'interested' in trade for Philadelphia native Markieff Morris

2020 NBA trade rumors: Sixers 'interested' in trade for Philadelphia native Markieff Morris

Brett Brown always references the phrases, “Philly hard, Philly edge, Philly real,” which grace the team’s practice facility in Camden.

Who better to bring that to the Sixers than a Philly native that encompasses all three of those traits?

The Sixers are one of several teams “interested” in the Pistons' Markieff Morris, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Morris, who played his college ball at Kansas, would be an intriguing fit for this Sixers team. The Sixers lacked three-point shooting and the 30-year-old is having a career year from deep (39.3 percent). Brown has also pointed to a lack of physicality recently. We all know that Markieff and his twin brother Marcus are never short in that department.

Morris could be seen as an upgrade over the struggling Mike Scott and slide easily into Brown’s rotation.

It shouldn’t be difficult to fit Morris in financially. His cap hit is just $3.2 million for this season. He has a player option at $3.3 million for 2020-21. The trickier part could be that the Sixers appear to be facing plenty of competition in their reported pursuit. Do they have the assets to tempt Detroit?

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m.

Tune in to the NBA Trade Deadline Show on the NBC Sports MyTeams app Thursday at 2:30 for analysis of all the important moves around the NBA.

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