Marcus Morris was one of the few Celtics on last year’s roster that played up to their potential for much of the 2018-19 season. He had a career-year in FG percentage (44%), rebounds per game (6.1) and shot a terrific 37.5 percent from 3-point range, helping to turn Boston’s season around after being inserted into the starting five in November. Despite an ugly slump in the second half of the season, Morris was one of the only guys that delivered consistent production in the midst of an ugly 4-1 series loss to the Bucks as well.
Yet, the Celtics never made him an offer in free agency last summer, a decision that should not come as a shock, even though it apparently did for Morris.
“Surprisingly no,” Morris told reporters in New York last month about whether he talked with Boston in free agency. “I didn’t get a phone call, I didn’t get anything from Boston … My two years there were special. I thought I did a lot for the team. I thought I at least deserved a phone call.”
The Celtics didn’t really have a chance to make Morris a competitive offer however once they decided they were going to try to open up max cap room for Kemba Walker. In addition to clearing salary cap space by trading guys like Aron Baynes, the team had to renounce their bigger free-agent cap holds, which included Morris, in order to make room for Walker’s max deal under the cap. Danny Ainge explained the realities of the situation in his Thursday interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
“I don’t remember it that way,” Ainge said when asked about Morris' comments. “I did talk to him. I know Jerome Allen and Brad Stevens talked to him. I think what he’s referring to is that he didn’t receive an offer when he said we didn’t talk to him. The reason was that we were signing Kemba and we were doing all we could. In order to get Kemba, we had to renounce our free agents. That’s why we didn’t make him an offer.”
Ainge went on to reveal the Celtics did make Morris an offer last summer before the season even began to try to keep him in green for the long term.
“We did make Marcus Morris a three-year contract extension offer last summer (in 2018) before the season started. He chose to become a free agent,” Ainge said. “We like Marcus and he’s played really well for the Knicks this year. I’m happy for him.”
What exactly could the Celtics have offered Morris in that deal? And was he better or worse off for not taking it? CBA rules provide a clear picture of what was on the table for the veteran.