SAN FRANCISCO – With the Dec. 15 trade marker approaching — the date players signed in the offseason are first eligible to be traded — Marcus Morris’ trade value is trending upward.
The Knicks believe they can garner a late first-round pick for the 30-year-old Morris from a playoff contender if they decide to trade him. Maybe even the Spurs come calling.
Suddenly a 3-point machine, Morris has been the hero in three of the Knicks’ five victories this season, including both wins over Dallas and Wednesday’s 124-122 overtime victory in Golden State when he poured in 37 points.
In a mild surprise, Morris is dead-set against being on the move. Remember, Morris had to break a verbal agreement with one of the NBA’s model, playoff-savvy franchises, the Spurs, to sign a one-year, $15 million deal with the moribund Knicks. Sources believed a chance to be close to his North Philly roots was a big factor in not wanting to be in Texas.
Late Wednesday, following the Knicks’ snapping their 10-game skid in San Francisco, Morris was asked point-blank if he has a yen to head to a club with stronger playoff designs. Not a chance, Morris said.
“I’m aware of that,” Morris said of the potential of being dealt. “It’s part of the game, but like I said in the beginning, I love being in New York, win, lose or draw. I’m here to try and help turn this thing around. I’m not really looking to get traded, that’s just my personal opinion.
“That’s my approach but this is the NBA. I’d rather help turn this thing around. Melo (Carmelo Anthony) said it best. Some guys aren’t built for New York. I’m built for New York. I’d rather be here. I’d rather help.”
Morris has played rugged defense, but his startling 3-point numbers in a 3-point-crazy league will certainly garner interest. The 5-20 Knicks are on the verge of moving into a mode of collecting extra draft picks by the February trade deadline to stuff into a blockbuster trade package. Plus, his departure would open things up for the regressing Kevin Knox, who comes off the bench.
But there’s something to be said for having Morris on the roster for as long as possible, showing the youngsters how it’s done. Morris was a key cog on winners in Boston the past two seasons, and Knicks scouts were really high on signing him once Reggie Bullock failed his physical.
The bump in 3-point accuracy, Morris said, is from getting extra freedom. He’s shooting 48.9 percent after being a career 36.8 percent 3-point shooter. Morris is also averaging 19 points.
“Just taking more, shooting with high confidence,” Morris said. “If you look at my last season, I shot the ball really well up until about All-Star. That’s when I really started to even out (37.5 percent). But it’s going down for (me). I’ll trade that for winning any day.”
The Knicks have five other free agents eligible to be traded Dec. 15 – Elfrid Payton, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson and Bullock, who’s still rehabbing until at least January. They’d be lucky to get a future second-rounder for any of them, unless they’re all packaged to take back bad contracts – which the Knicks won’t do.