The Wizards have a host of players entering contract years for the 2018-19 season, creating a wide array of possibilities for their upcoming summer. With one year left on their deals, Washington has to decide if those players are going to be part of their future, or whether it would make more sense to trade them and avoid the risk of losing them for nothing the following offseason.
Starting power forward Markieff Morris is in that category with his contract set to expire one year from now. He is due $8.6 million next season, a relative bargain for a starter with his skillset.
If Morris had it his way, he would not just stick around for next season but for many years after that.
"I would definitely want to finish my career here," Morris said. "I love playing here. I love being in the city that I was basically raised in and playing for this organization."
Morris, who will turn 29 several weeks before training camp opens, just finished his third season with the Wizards. Despite beginning the season sidelined following sports hernia surgery, he logged 73 games.
Though some of his volume numbers dipped - his 11.5 points per game were his lowest since 2012-13 - Morris was more efficient than ever in 2017-18. He set career-highs in three-point percentage (36.7) and effective field goal percentage (53.6).
Morris has proven able to play both power forward and center at times in small-ball lineups. He can stretch the floor, but is also big enough to initiate contact around the rim.
When engaged, Morris can be an asset defensively. He did a strong job overall in the Wizards' first round playoff series against the Raptors in guarding Serge Ibaka. Ibaka is bigger and can shoot accurately from long range, making him a tough cover. But Morris seemed to figure him out after a few games and make a difference in the series.
Morris believes his future in the NBA involves more play at center and that will be a point of emphasis this summer.
“[I need to] be ready to set more pick-and-rolls. That’s tough," Morris said. "I know it was tough on Marcin [Gortat]. I think he led the league in picks. That’s a tough thing to do, setting pick and rolls every play. I think that’s the most important thing I need to play the five.”
Morris has adapted to playing small-ball and the Wizards have had success with him anchoring the middle. Their best lineup based on plus-minus rating had Morris at center surrounded by Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Tomas Satoransky. The Wizards saw similar results the year before with the same group and John Wall at point guard instead of Satoransky.
Morris has discovered what he believes is a key to making those lineups work. He has to take advantage of other teams switching smaller players onto him.
"One thing I need to do more is play more bully ball because the league has changed. The best teams are switching five. I need to get that part of my game to a T,” he said.
"You look at the better teams in the league, they all switch five. Not too many bigs bully especially at the four position... I've got to get to a point where teams are not allowed to switch on me and take advantage of it."
When the offseason began last summer, Morris was nursing a left ankle injury that altered his workout plans. He later had the hernia procedure that made him miss training camp and the start of the regular season.
Now he is healthy and able to operate the offseason under normal circumstances. Well, at least beyond the fact he has an infant daughter to care for.
"[My contract future] is not on my mind right now," he said. "I’m a full-time dad now. I have to figure that out."
MORE WIZARDS' NEWS:
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- Offseason Questions: Can this core get over the hump?
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