Lakers signing Markieff Morris into $1.75M Disabled Player Exception, waive DeMarcus Cousins, per report
Morris provides the Lakers with a big defensive wing who can really space the floor
It didn't take long for Markieff Morris to find a new NBA home. After it was reported the Los Angeles Lakers had emerged as the front-runner to sign Morris, the former Pistons big man will sign into the team's $1.75 million Disabled Player Exception now that he has cleared waivers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Morris is the twin brother of Marcus Morris, whom the Lakers, among other teams, were trying to trade for at the deadline. The Clippers got Marcus in the end.
Making space for Morris on their 15-man roster, Los Angeles waived veteran center DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins had yet to appear in a game for the Lakers this season while recovering from a knee injury he suffered in August but just this week Frank Vogel suggested the former All-Star was on track to be to the floor for the playoffs.
After losing out on Marcus, the Lakers countering with Markieff definitely checks off a couple of important playoff boxes. First, he's a 6-foot-10 wing who can provide versatile defensive depth. Outside of Danny Green and LeBron James -- and I suppose Kyle Kuzma if you're really into playing with fire -- the Lakers are in short supply of candidates to take their turns on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in what feels like an inevitable playoff matchup with the Clippers.
Speaking of a potential showdown between the two L.A. teams in the postseason, Marcus was excited about the idea of competing against his brother. "We're two competitive guys, that's gonna be like really fun," he told ESPN. "Probably gonna ride to the game together. That don't bother us, to have to go out there and compete -- we're pros, and both of us gonna go hard and both are gonna do the best we can do for our team."
Along with his size and defensive potential, Markieff is also a classic stretch four who can seriously space the floor. Per Cleaning the Glass, which removes garbage time and end-of-quarter heaves, Markieff is shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc this season, and 43 percent on corner 3s.
In lineups featuring Anthony Davis at the five, Markieff will keep the Lakers big and slot perfectly into the corner outlet shooter while LeBron and Davis play pick-and-roll. Put Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out there alongside them, and that's big-time spacing and defense all over the court.
The Lakers struck out trying to add defensive and shooting depth. Again, they missed on Marcus Morris. They didn't get Andre Iguodala or Bogdan Bogdanovic or Jae Crowder or any of the other candidates they either did, or could've, pursued. Backup point guard is also a position of need, where they missed on Darren Collison, who decided to remain retired.
Markieff doesn't fill that role, but come playoff time, the defensive size on the wing and floor spacing is probably more important. The bottom line is LeBron is going to be playing the point for heavy minutes no matter who else is on the roster. Surrounding him with shooters and enough versatility to take a bit of defensive burden off his shoulders is crucial.
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