Pistons agree to deal with forward Markieff Morris
Las Vegas — The Pistons had a good experience with one of the Morris twins. They’re taking a shot with the other one in free agency, agreeing on a two-year deal with forward Markieff Morris on Wednesday.
The deal is for the bi-annual exception, worth about $3.6 million per year, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News. The Athletic’s Shams Charania was first to report the agreement.
It’s a move that strengthens the Pistons’ frontcourt depth and bring a capable scorer to the second unit, which struggled offensively at times last season.
Morris is 6-foot-10, averaged 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds, and shot 34 percent on 3-pointers in 58 games, including 16 starts, combined for the Wizards and Thunder last season.
The Pistons had Markieff’s twin brother, Marcus, for two seasons in 2015-17.
After being swept out of the playoffs, the Pistons were looking to add size and toughness at the forward positions and strengthen the point guard position. They look to have accomplished both, trading for forward Tony Snell and drafting forward Sekou Doumbouya, along with adding point guards Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier in free agency.
Of the 14 players on the main roster, the Pistons have seven new faces since the beginning of last season. The front office, looking to reshape the roster with manageable players who can play several positions, has given a new-look group with bigger forwards and veteran options at four positions.
Markieff, 29, was a first-round pick in the 2011 draft from Kansas, where he played with Marcus. Markieff was the 13th overall selection by the Suns and Marcus 14th by the Rockets.
Markieff had one of his best seasons in 2016-17 with the Wizards, when he posted 14 points and a career-best 6.5 rebounds, starting all 76 games he played.
He slides into a role where he could back up Blake Griffin at power forward and could be an option as a small-lineup backup center behind Andre Drummond. The versatility he brings was something the Pistons lacked last season, especially in the playoffs against the Bucks.
Pistons assistant coach Sean Sweeney, who is running the summer league squad, is going to have a loaded roster with more experienced players than a typical summer league team.
With as many as five or six players who could make the roster, Sweeney is looking to spread the responsibility around, get a look at what they can do in a lower-pressure situation and see if that carries over to the regular season.
That group includes Bruce Brown, Khyri Thomas, Svi Mykhailiuk, rookie Deividas Sirvydis and Doumbouya, which provides something of a logjam at guard and forward.
“They’re all going to know that the guys are going to play. Guys are going to get reps of different spots in different positions, both offensively and defensively,” Sweeney said. “And you know, we want to play a style that encourages guys to attack, be aggressive while still maintaining balance. And that doesn’t really change regardless of how many guys there are.”