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Roundtable: Revisiting the Wizards’ decision to trade for Markieff Morris

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San Antonio Spurs v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Jake Whitacre: It's been nearly a year now since the Wizards traded their first round pick in the 2016 Draft for Markieff Morris so I thought it would be a good time to revisit the deal and where we stand on the move.

I could be wrong, but I think generally we can all agree it was a good move. Morris brought stability to the starting lineup, and while he has been underwhelming at times, the 2016 draft class has been significantly more underwhelming. Only six players from the class were invited to the Rising Stars Challenge, and even the ones that made it aren't all that astounding.

That said, when we evaluate the trade, we can't just look at what the team gained and lost in the trade, we also have to consider alternate options and opportunity costs. For instance, what if the Wizards had not made the move? Odds are, the Wizards would have had a higher draft pick, which would have given them a chance to draft someone with higher upside or maybe even put themselves in position to make a pitch to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka like the Magic wound up doing.

Don't forget, there were other players available at the deadline as well. You'd have to think the Wizards could have easily acquired Ryan Anderson with the same package they used to get Morris. Of course, they would have had to devote cap space to him that would have taken them out of the running for Durant and Horford, but given how everything shook out, that may not have been the worst thing. And for all the talk about how Anderson would have been a defensive liability, the Rockets have a slightly better Defensive Rating than the Wizards this season, even though they arguably have less defensive talent, even with Anderson excluded.

These are just a couple examples, I'm sure you can conjure up more. Bottom line: Was the Morris trade the best option for the team, given what we know now?

Austin Sternlicht: I think it was a successful move. However it is tough to analyze because Phoenix traded that pick to move up to draft Marquise Chirss. The pick went to the Kings who as we all know have no ability to trade talent and ended up picking Georgios Papa Johns... It will be interesting to see how Chriss develops over the years because he then, could have been a guy the Wizards could have traded up for as well.

Tony East: Given how week that draft class was outside the top 7 guys, the move felt like a no brainier at the time. I don’t know if we could have traded it for anyone much better than Morris, he gives you more of a two-way player than a guy like Ryan Anderson (yes, he’s succeeding but Harden sets him up so well all the time).

At best without the trade we move up to 10 in the draft and that's where Thon Maker was picked, so I don't think moving up to there really gets the Wiz anyone who pushes the needle quite like Morris has (when he tries). Also note that trading for Anderson would have meant the Wizards got his Bird Rights, which means they COULD have gotten Horford and then still signed him afterwards. It probably would have made the Wizards a tax team, though.

Another note with Morris is that his contract is AWESOME right now. Two more seasons after this one at $8 million per year for a starting 4 who is incredible given the salary cap spike. I think that had a lot to do with the trade.

Garrett Shaffer: My first thoughts were what Wizards fans would have said if we took ourselves out of the big free agent running that early by signing someone on an unfriendly contract without star power. I mean Morris ended up working out well and we still want Ernie to leave. Markieff has room to grow in the system under Brooks, and like Tony said, great contract. The Wizards tend to make a run at the end of bad seasons when there is nothing to lose. They might have done that without Keef and still wound up with a pick 8-15, which we all know could end up as a bust with this organization's scouting and drafting history.

One interesting thing I could swing out there: The Clippers acquired Jeff Green from Memphis back in early Feb. for Lance "brick" Stephenson and a future protected 1st rounder. I have always liked Jeff Green’s talent and size, especially in the modern small ball era. John Wall is one of the stars that makes others around him better, and Green would be no different. I'm not sure how y'all feel about Green, I know he's inconsistent, but I think we could have looked that way and offered the Grizzlies our better pick + around the same contract value. Just a thought, but Keef is a fine player.

Lyndie Wood: Please no Jeff Green. He's a player who perpetually feels like he maybe could be good, but never is. At this point in his career, I wouldn't bet on any growth.

Akbar Naqvi: Every team that has traded for Jeff Green has thought that he was their missing piece, and every team ends up getting disappointed because he just isn't good. That said, feels like he's destined to be a Wizard at some point in his career.

Alan Jenkins: I'd rate the trade as a B. Morris definitely needed a change of scenery as the Wizards desperately needed a PF capable of stretching the floor. When Morris was first traded here, I think there was a glimpse of hope that this new team would fire him up to elevate his game to the next level. But now that we've seen Morris, we know what he is. A guy capable of stretching the floor, getting tough baskets around the rim, and can provide some grit of the defensive end when he's engaged.

The problem is, he's wildly inconsistent. You didn't know what you would get from Morris through the first two months of the season. Since the start of January, he's shown what he is capable of. I do think the Wizards should have pushed harder for Ryan Anderson as he'd be another knockdown three-point shooter for this team however given what Kieff brings and his cheap deal; I'd say the trade has been a success.

Lyndie Wood: He's around a 33 percent shooter from three, which I guess qualifies him as a floor stretcher. I honestly expected that to be lower when I looked it up just now. I think his biggest value is his defensive versatility - his ability to switch on to guards on the perimeter is really helpful.

Honestly, if Morris would just shoot less I think I'd be much happier with him. His contract is great and he has really useful skills, but half of his shots need to go to Porter.

Ultimately, I think it was a decent trade. But even without Mahinmi's injury, I wish their big offseason acquisition was someone who could play some PF next to Gortat. Doesn't really matter who starts, but they don't have much of a fallback on Morris's bad nights.

Mike Prada: It worked out OK. The problem is that they got themselves in a position where they had to make the trade in the first place. Ideally, the PF position isn't such a sinkhole that you talk yourself into dealing a first-round pick to take the Markieff Morris roller coaster. But it was, so it had to be patched up at a long-term cost.

He's been about what I expected on the court, though I was worried he'd be a locker room problem and that hasn't come to pass yet.

Ben Becker: I am still not in agreement that it was a good trade.

Morris' production over the past ten games or so is completely outside of his career norms. It's All-Star level. If it continues and this is just who he is (a) it will be shocking and nearly unprecedented given his age/experience (b) it will obviously be a good trade.

For the season, his Win Shares per 48 minutes is still materially below average. His PER -- a stat that rewards any FGA if you shoot above 29 percent! -- is below average. His Offensive Rating is significantly below average. So, on balance, he still hasn't been GOOD. If you think he is, there's a huge recency bias at play, as well as perhaps a failure to recognize that the bad things he does on the floor matter just as much as the good things.

There's no evidence to suggest he helped down the stretch last year. Having him in tow over the summer did two things that had a cumulative ripple effect (that has turned out to be terrible): First, the Wizards had $8 million less in cap space. Second, it gave the front office the misapprehension that they were reasonably "set" at power forward and that the team could be flexible with how they spent their money. Without Morris, they may have landed Ryan Anderson, Deng, Marvin Williams, etc ., AND avoided the disastrous Mahinmi signing and the subsequent bad Nicholson and Smith deals. Yes, there's some conjecture in there, and it' safe to assume that everything wouldn't have turned out perfectly. But the Wizards would be better with Deng or Anderson and Cole Aldrich, Dwayne Dedmon, etc than they are with two guys who don't play.

Jake Whitacre: Just to build off what Ben is saying, I feel like it would have been much easier and cheaper to find a defensive 4 last summer who could fill a spot behind someone like Anderson than it was to find an offensive 4 behind Morris.

Lyndie Wood: Agreed 100 percent.

Mike Prada: I disagree about the summer ripple effect. I doubt that $8 million would have been spent any more effectively if it was available in free agency considering the inflated cost of free agents. The Mahinmi signing was a direct result of missing out on Al Horford, who would have been target No. 1 anyway with or without Morris.

If the Wizards really thought they were set at PF, would they have pursued Horford so heavily?

Ben Becker: I said "reasonably set." Without the false security of Morris, there's a better chance they would have secured Anderson and Deng -- both of whom they were reportedly in on.

Mike Prada: To me the bigger issue is losing the draft pick because it's yet another example of chipping away at long-term infrastructure to patch a hole. We're seeing with Kelly Oubre now that even mid firsts can provide some real value to a winning team even at a young age, and they only should get better. With the new rules making it very difficult to get impact free agents, drafting well becomes more important. You gotta draft, develop and retain.

As far as free agency, though, I don't agree. Is there any useful frontcourt rotation player you could have reasonably signed for the 3 years/$24 million that's left on Markieff's deal? That's almost as much as Nicholson got and as much as Darrell Arthur got. It's also half of what Luol Deng got, and Deng looks terrible this year. Wherever you slot him into the rotation, Morris is a good buy at that price.

And like I mentioned before, the Wizards still would have pursued Al Horford, and unless they jumped out of the bidding earlier, they wouldn't have been fast enough to secure Anderson, Williams, etc. even if you do think those would be better long-term buys.

Marcus Atkinson Sr.: I am with Mike here, I think you have to look at the totality of the situation, it's not just the trade and what has happened afterwards. It's also about what led to the trade. The fact that the Wizards even put themselves in that situation is unacceptable. I don't think the trade itself was bad, as much as it was the need to do it. Thinking that you can make Kris Humphries as a 'stretch-4' or using Jared Dudley as an every game 'stretch-4' put the team in a mode of desperation.

In my opinion, if you're going to take on the risk of getting a player such as Morris I think before the season or even early in the season would have made more sense. At that point, the issues that existed in Phoenix were at a peak and his value was likely at it's lowest point. The idea of the trade already prompted Ernie Grunfield to contact ex-coaches, former teammates like Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley and they all vouched for Morris, stating that his behavior wasn't indicative of the type of person he is. Had this been in consideration sooner, it's possible that you get him at a lower price. What was said about him at the trade deadline was already known, and none of his actions changed how those individuals saw him, so I don't see how exploring that trade at that time would have hurt. It's not as though the Wizards had good options at the position anyway.

I know that's speculative, but the move reeked of desperation. Ultimately it may have played out well but who is to say that the draft pick that was traded couldn't have been used to get another asset. These deadline deals have cumulative effects. You may have gotten what you wanted, which is a stretch 4 who can play both ends (although inconsistently), but you also lost what could have helped build an even better roster. For me I hated the timing of the trade more than the trade itself. I think Morris is good for the price he is on, but I hope this team can avoid getting such deals. Timing is everything here.