Has there been a more unlucky franchise in NBA history than the Los Angeles Clippers? It definitely seems like every time circumstances begin to break right for them, one major development threatens to derail everything they had built to that point, perhaps even for good. And in the 2023 NBA playoffs, it certainly seems like the Clippers’ lack of luck has pushed fans to the point of defeated acceptance.
Entering their playoff series against the Phoenix Suns — boasting the services of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Chris Paul — without Paul George was difficult enough. But with Kawhi Leonard still active, the Clippers had a fighting chance, even taking Game 1 on the road despite Russell Westbrook’s 3/19 shooting performance.
Sure, they lost Game 2 despite yet another strong Leonard performance, but in Game 3, the Clippers revealed that The Klaw had suffered yet another knee injury. Yet another playoff run that started with considerable promise ended with a whimper, as the Clippers, despite the supporting cast’s best efforts, ended up falling to the Suns in five games with Leonard on the mend.
Of course, it’s difficult to blame Kawhi Leonard too much for having injury-prone knees. But at what point do the Clippers think that building all their championship hopes around Leonard, who isn’t getting any younger by the way, isn’t the most secure option?
Even then, that thought is easier to marinate in than to actually allow to influence one’s decision making. If healthy, Leonard is as good a playoff performer as anyone. But with Paul George unable to avoid the injury bug too, it may be the smartest decision for the team to hunt for a more durable star.
However, given the Clippers’ investment in the duo, that may not happen until after the franchise settles into their new homecourt at Intuit Dome.
Until then, here is the player the Clippers must trade in the 2023 NBA offseason.
1 player Clippers must trade in the 2023 NBA offseason: Marcus Morris Sr.
It has to be said that sometimes, a fanbase’s perception of a player revolves too much around the “what have you done for me lately” way of thinking. Coaches have exclusive look towards how players perform in practice, and they have a specific vision they want to execute on the basketball court during games that matter.
But for the Clippers and Marcus Morris Sr., fans may be more right than wrong in how they view the 33-year old stretch forward and his relationship with head coach Tyronn Lue.
On paper, Morris stands out as a hand-and-glove fit in the Clippers’ starting unit alongside the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Morris is a knockdown catch-and-shoot option, and at his best, he can hang around defensively on the perimeter. Since his arrival in LA back in early 2020, Morris has proven to be a reliable option for the Clippers, especially during games that Leonard or George miss due to load management.
Even with Leonard and George active, Marcus Morris Sr. has even stepped up with monster performances in crucial moments. With George struggling in the 2020 NBA playoffs, it was Morris who stepped up as the secondary scoring option, and with the Clippers looking to close out the Dallas Mavericks in 2021, Morris drained seven of his nine attempts from deep en route to a comfortable win.
To add to that, Morris had reliable performances against both the Utah Jazz and Suns after Kawhi Leonard’s unfortunate 2021 injury. Simply put, Morris has done a lot to fuel the Clippers’ cause, which is perhaps why Tyronn Lue has remained so hesitant to give up on the veteran completely.
However, throughout the entirety of the 2022-23 season, it’s clear that Morris is no longer the player he once was.
His stats on the surface may seem similar. But the eye test is telling; Morris’ foot speed has declined considerably, he has never been a plus rebounder, and as a result of his overall decline in movement speed, he has become a less effective isolation option. He also has a tendency to stop the ball and stall the Clippers’ offensive flow.
Clippers fans then grew frustrated with Morris throughout the season, incredibly perplexed by Lue’s decision to continue rolling with the 33-year old forward. Lue may have inserted Nicolas Batum in the starting lineup to end the season, but by then, the Clippers were already stuck in the middle of the Western Conference pack.
It’s never a good idea for fans to turn their criticisms towards player performance into personal insults. But the Clippers fanbase may very well explode if LA enters next season with Morris still on the roster. And if the Clippers are serious about their chances of re-signing Russell Westbrook anyway, Morris appears to be the most likely member of the roster to give way.
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