Markieff Morris

Pistons’ Markieff Morris fined $35K for language toward referee (video)

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After struggling his first two starts for an injured Blake Griffin, Pistons forward Markieff Morris delivered his best game of the season Saturday. Morris scored 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, grabbed six rebounds, collected two steals, blocked a shot and… got hit with a technical foul.

Apparently, Morris’ misconduct went even further than that.

NBA release:

Detroit Pistons forward Markieff Morris has been fined $35,000 for directing inappropriate and offensive language toward a game official, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred during the Pistons’ 117-111 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, October 2

It’s unclear whether the fine was for the same incident as the technical foul, but Morris clearly kept talking after getting whistled for the tech.

Pistons’ Blake Griffin out until at least early November with hamstring and knee soreness

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Blake Griffin is the fulcrum of the Detroit offense, last season when he was off the floor the Pistons were 6.9 points per 100 possession worse on that end of the floor. He’s the playmaker out of the elbow that everything runs through, and when he was out in the playoffs injured the team fell apart.

Which is why this is bad news:

Griffin is out until at least the first week of November due to hamstring and knee soreness, the team announced Tuesday. Griffin is not traveling with the team to Indiana for the season opener and, based on the timeline announced by the team, he will miss at least the five games the Pistons play in October, and they have four games the first week of November.

Markieff Morris would make the most sense as a replacement for Griffin as a starter, but he is questionable for the opener with lower back tightness. If Morris can’t go, Dwane Casey may go with a Luke Kennard as the starter and go small, at least that’s what did in the playoffs.

The Pistons are considered a bubble playoff team in the East, they made it in with 41 wins last season but there have been questions about whether they can step forward this season. Losing Griffin for any length of time is a setback in making the postseason — the first 10 games of the regular season count just the same as the last 10.

Griffin averaged 24.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists a game, while shooting 36.2 percent from three last season. He was an All-Star and All-NBA forward who pulled the Pistons into the postseason. They need him back healthy to do that again.

 

With this era’s flame still flickering, Pistons load bench with name recognition

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Just three teams have had the same trio of $16 million-plus-salary players each of the previous two seasons and next season:

Golden State won a championship, returned to the NBA Finals and enters next season with four-ish stars in a two-star league.

Detroit missed the playoffs, got swept in the first round and enters next season with, um, a reasonable chance at making the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Pistons’ expensive core has underwhelmed while limiting flexibility. Drummond and Jackson are paid too much to trade for value and too good to tank with. The best option is probably the least drastic, keeping this group together and hoping for the best.

Same story last summer. Same story this summer.

But maybe not same story next summer.

Jackson’s contract expires after next season. Drummond has a player option he sounds ready to decline. At that point, the Pistons must decide what to do with Griffin – keep his top supporting players, find new ones or trade him to kickstart a rebuild.

In the meantime, Detroit added yet another expensive potential starter and a few recognizable reserves. This far into the plan – no matter how lackluster the results so far – the present remains a high priority.

The Pistons turned Jon Leuer‘s deadweight contract and the No. 45 pick into Tony Snell, No. 37 pick Deividas Sirvydis, No. 57 pick Jordan Bone, the Trail Blazers’ 2023 second-rounder and $3 million. I would’ve rather kept Snell and the No. 30 pick sent by the Bucks for taking his undesirable contract (and Detroit’s original second-rounder, No. 45). But that wouldn’t have generated the $3 million cash.

Milwaukee dumped Snell because he’s too expensive for a fringe rotation player there and due $12,178,571 in 2020-21. Leuer’s contract was expiring. But the Pistons are so desperate on the wing, they might start Snell.

The Pistons also signed Derrick Rose (two years, $15 million), Markieff Morris (two years, $6.56 million) and Joe Johnson (partially guaranteed, surely minimum). That’s a former MVP, someone who finished fourth in Most Improved Player voting at age 24 and a seven-time All-Star.

But those likely backups are past their primes. Rose looked like he’d fall out of the NBA before a resurgent/outlier-shooting season last year. Though helpful more often recently, Morris didn’t crack the Thunder’s playoff rotation. Johnson has been playing in a 3-on-3 league for NBA retirees.

Expectations shouldn’t be too high. But there’s at least hope this group packs more punch than departed Ish Smith provided off the bench. More bench scoring could limit the load on Griffin, who – even in his best season in years – wore down by the playoffs.

Because of Rose’s injury history, it was important to sign Tim Frazier (minimum) as third point guard. Claiming Christian Wood off waivers was another a good under-the-radar move. But signing Joe Johnson will make it harder for Wood to make the regular-season roster.

If all goes well, Detroit’s best move of the offseason will be drafting Sekou Doumbouya No. 15. I rated him No. 7 on my board. But that was because I like his raw talent in a weak draft, not because I’m convinced he’ll become a good NBA player. It’ll take a while to assess that pick.

This summer wasn’t easy for the Pistons, but it was simple. Their status quo could change soon. If they play well next season, they’ll face difficult choices with Jackson and maybe Drummond. If they don’t play well next season, that’ll invite its own problems.

They’re hoping to face the play-well issues and built this team accordingly. But with limited flexibility, the outlook remains similar, with next summer looming as the major inflection point.

Offseason grade: C

Blake Griffin on recruiting this summer: ‘I think I was 0-for-3 this year’

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Kawhi Leonard denies he recruited Paul George to the Clippers, but the two definitely talked before George told Thunder management he wanted to be traded to Los Angeles to team up with Leonard.

Spencer Dinwiddie recruited Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn, who ended up bringing Kevin Durant into the mix as well.

There were a lot of stars recruiting stars this summer, and Blake Griffin tried to get in on it he said on the Pardon My Take podcast. It just didn’t exactly go as planned. (Hat tip Hoopshype.)

“I did a few calls, a few texts, a few reach-outs… You know what? I think I was 0 for 3 this year [laughs]…

“I texted him and literally like I think like 30 minutes later it was like ‘Jeff Green has signed with the Utah Jazz.'”

The Pistons were basically capped out this summer anyway, any moves had to be trades or deals for well below the market value of most players. Upgrading the roster this summer was going to be difficult under the best of circumstances.

Detroit did add some nice depth with Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris, but that was always about as good as it was going to get.

Despite Griffin’s best efforts.

Blazers lock OKC down on defense to take 2-0 lead

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Damian Lillard could not be stopped. CJ McCollum could not be stopped. Moe Harkless could not be stopped. Most of the Portland Trail Blazers bench could not be stopped. Now, after a Blazers win in Game 2, 114-94, we’re left wondering if the Oklahoma City offense can get going enough to avoid a third consecutive loss down 2-0.

As things got going Tuesday night in Portland, it was looking like it could be a more competitive matchup with Paul George saying his shoulder was feeling much better. George was more confident, and in fact, the Thunder led in the first quarter.

But things quickly went downhill from there.

Portland tied it with a McCollum 3-pointer just as time expired heading into halftime. That seemed to spark the Blazers, who came out hot on both sides of the ball in the third quarter.

Portland put the clamps on the defensive side of the ball to start the third, allowing just 21 points and then 19 points in fourth quarter.

Naturally, things got a little testy as the game wore on. Double technicals were issued to Zach Collins and Markieff Morris earlier in the game, and Lillard and Steven Adams got to jaw jacking after the Thunder big man laid the Blazers guard out on a screen.

This is how it’s gone between the Thunder and Portland this year. Technical fouls have been issued, guys have been in each other’s faces, and emotions have run high. For Blazers fans, Tuesday night’s game was not just a show of their depth, but their willingness to not back down from a fight.

Honestly? It was impressive.

After covering this team for the better part of this decade, it has always been a question whether Blazers good meter out there play when opponents toughened up on them. This version of Portland has played more as a team, but the Thunder are dishing out the shots needed to Test the mettle of the Blazers role players.

Oklahoma City, despite their offensive inequities, pushed the Blazers rotational players to the limit in Game 2. Portland’s best asset all season long outside of Lillard has been its depth, and although guys like Seth Curry, Meyers Leonard, Evan Turner, and Zach Collins didn’t pop on the box score, their impact was immeasurable.

Like we talked about after Game 1, the Thunder appear to be in trouble. It started with the uneasiness of George’s shoulder. Now with George feeling and playing better, OKC continues to look out matched. And although the Oklahoma City star was more efficient and confident in Game 2, Harkless again got an early block on George.

In short, things don’t look great for the Thunder.

So where does the series go from here? The Blazers took care of business at home at Moda, and things move to Oklahoma City. Still, there is some real questions about whether the Thunder can muster up enough offense to beat this Blazers team.

OKC is shooting just 16.4 percent combined from 3-point range during the series. The Thunder have three times more turnovers than made threes in this series, and it’s not immediately clear where they will be able to make that up.

George leads the team with more than double the made 3-pointers than the next closest teammate in Dennis Schroder. The problem is that George is shooting just 27 percent from deep, and his teammates aren’t helping.

Meanwhile Portland has been outstanding from the 3-point range, shooting 42 percent for the series. Lillard and McCollum combined to go 7-of-15 on Tuesday, and at one point Lillard was daring Westbrook to shoot. After one deep made three over the former MVP, Lillard turned to the crowd and said, “Bombs away!”

In Game 2 it was obvious that Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan had a decided to use pace to disrupt Portland’s defense, running on every made basket. It threw the Blazers off, but only for a quarter. The Thunder are going to need a strategy more dynamic than that as they try to beat the Blazers back at Chesapeake for Game 3 on Friday.

For a team with a player who likes to barrel through opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder found out on Tuesday night that the Blazers aren’t likely to pull back on the reins when they get some momentum going. Lillard looks unstoppable, McCollum was on fire, and Portland’s bench survived every gutpunch.

The Thunder are playing right into Portland’s plan, and they’re flailing as they head home down two games in the first round.