Darius Morris is on a long list of Los Angeles Lakers free agents this summer. Morris is a restricted free agent over the offseason. But Morris is also on a longer list of players who would have benefitted from more college basketball.
That opinion is from a developmental stance, not financial. As a young adult male, along with the status of being a professional athlete, making a little over $2 million dollars, it is tough to categorize his decision to leave college early as a bad decision. He left Michigan after his sophomore season, where he was the single season assists record holder. But the question of his development now comes up as his contract expires.
Morris was drafted because he was a big, fast guard with potential. If he failed to make any development in his final two years at Michigan, he would have lost a lot of money, even if he was a better basketball player.
But the questions facing Mitch Kupchak are: Has he developed enough for the Lakers to invest further in him, and are there better alternatives in the backcourt?
Morris started 17 games this year for the Lakers, and stepped in for important minutes in a depleted backcourt. Don’t know if he learned it from him, but much like his teammate last season Ramon Sessions, Morris does not have that crucial instinct of when to be aggressive and when to be patient. Morris may be signed by the Lakers because he has the ability to drive and dish, but hasn’t done it on command. His perimeter shot has not improved much. Morris is a character player who is willing to play defense, but he is not a superior defender.
Morris hopes to be back next season, but even if his minutes expand I don’t see his scoring increasing much. The Lakers could go back to the draft to develop another guard, but that takes time the Lakers don’t have, and the Lakers have no draft picks. Kupchak could probably get a slightly cheaper veteran. But given the choice between Chris Duhon (who is still under contract) and Morris, the Lakers wold be wise to go younger. And if the Lakers bring back Dwight Howard, they likely won;t have the money to bring in a playmaking guard like Jose Calderon or Jeff Teague.
If for no other reason than familiarity, the Lakers should bring back Darius Morris for a one year deal. But I wouldn’t match an offer sheet from any other team if Darius Morris signed one.