When the Spurs and Marcus Morris verbally agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal during free agency, San Antonio first had to make moves in order to clear up the space for the power forward. So, San Antonio traded Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards in order to clear up enough cap space to bring on Morris. Then, three days later, Morris began having second thoughts on the deal and ended up signing a one-year, $15 million deal with the New York Knicks.
The Spurs were reportedly furious when Morris backed out of the agreement. It wasn't just that the Spurs were upset over Morris reneging on his verbal commitment, it was that San Antonio dealt away a young player who had shown improvement in order to sign Morris. It might've happened a few months ago, but San Antontio, -- specifically Gregg Popovich -- still harbors some feelings over how it all went down. While talking to reporters during the Spurs' media day, Popovich addressed the situation.
"It was more than difficult to lose Davis (Bertans), let's just say that was an unfortunate situation that was handled unprofessionally on a couple of different levels," Popovich said. "We made that move to make the signing that we did, and got blindsided. Davis was a special player, he was young and getting better, so we hated losing him."
Saying it was handled unprofessionally clearly shows that Popovich takes serious issue with what Morris did. Yes, Morris did make a verbal agreement, however, he shouldn't be lambasted for changing his mind. It's happened before in this league, and it'll happen again. In fact, the reason Morris was able to sign with the Knicks in the first place was because the Knicks backed out of a two-year, $21 million deal with Reggie Bullock, after his physical was reportedly red-flagged. What would've been worse is if Morris did agree to sign in San Antonio and was miserable there, which could have caused issues in the locker room and with teammates.
Morris clearly wasn't 100 percent in favor of the San Antonio deal, which was negotiated by his former agent Rich Paul. Morris and Paul actually parted ways after his signing with the Knicks, in which Paul had no part in the negotiation. Morris, of course, did explain his reasoning for picking the Knicks over the Spurs during the Knicks' media day.
"As far as my free agency, it didn't go as planned," Morris said. "A lot of those decisions came off of a lot of unknown sources and unknown situations. I kind of committed very early. New York became involved and I saw opportunity, East Coast, the Mecca, (I'm) from Philly."
While it's unfortunate that the Spurs did have to lose a player in the process, according to Morris, he did try to explain himself to the Spurs before moving forward with his deal in New York. In a conversation with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Morris said he had "great conversations" with the Spurs after he changed his mind to ensure there were no hard feelings. it's not clear who he spoke to specifically with the Spurs, but when Popovich was asked if Morris reached out to them he said, "not really."
The Spurs will get to work out any unresolved feeling toward Morris in their season opener on Oct. 23 when they play host to Morris and the Knicks.