So far, this offseason is going much better for Markieff Morris than the last one. Last summer, Morris was rehabbing a sprained left ankle injury after the 2016-17 playoffs and due for sports hernia surgery just before the 2017-18 season began. This summer, he has a clean bill of health.
That's good news for Morris beyond the obvious. He is gearing up for the final year of his contract with a lot of money on the line. His health will be paramount as he aims for the third contract of his career.
The last time Morris was in this position, he agreed to a deal he would later regret. The Phoenix Suns convinced Morris to take a discount in order to keep playing with his twin brother, Marcus. Then, the Suns traded him to the Wizards and Morris has since felt betrayed.
The 2018-19 season is arguably the biggest of Morris' career in part for that reason. He has a chance to get a lucrative long-term deal and he knows more than most players that these opportunities can't be taken for granted.
"I’m finally 100 percent, so I feel good," Morris told NBC Sports Washington at his annual backpack giveaway in Southeast Washington on Saturday. "My play is gonna speak for itself. The most important thing we’ve gotta do is win as a team. That’s the most important thing."
Morris' take on his contract year is what head coach Scott Brooks told everyone to expect just weeks prior when addressing the media at Dwight Howard's introductory press conference. Brooks was asked about the Wizards' unusual amount of players in contract years and cited Morris as an example of a player who doesn't obsess over his individual stats.
Morris says this offseason hasn't featured much out of the ordinary. It is his first full summer as a father, so that has been different. He is also doing a lot of boxing while training for the new year in Philadelphia.
Things will surely be different for Morris once training camp begins, as he has a new teammate in the Wizards' frontcourt. Howard will start at center alongside Morris and that will affect his role on both ends of the floor.
Morris is thrilled to have Howard on board.
"I think it’s a great pickup. Dwight has been a great player his entire career. He averaged [16.6] and [12.5] last year," Morris said. "Every time we played against him he has been a matchup problem for us. I’m excited to have him and welcome him to D.C."
Morris believes Howard will fit "perfect" in the Wizards' locker room, brushing past any talk of chemistry concerns. With Howard in the mix, he likes how the Wizards stack up in the Eastern Conference.
He said the Raptors will be "basically the same" with Kawhi Leonard now instead of DeMar DeRozan. The biggest change he sees will be due to the departure of LeBron James to the West.
"A guy like that, all you can do is tip your hat to. He makes his own decisions and he wants to go play for the Lakers, man. It is what it is. I’m happy that he’s not in the East," Morris said.
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