In July last year, the 31-year-old hammered out a deal with the San Antonio Spurs worth $20 million. He never officially signed the contract, though, and instead inked a one-year, $15 million deal with the New York Knicks.
Morris didn't improve the team much on the court but did provide New York with a trade asset, which it cashed in last February. As part of a three-team trade, he went to the Clippers and the Knicks received Moe Harkless, a 2020 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick.
Morris was averaging a career-best 19.6 points and shooting 43.9 percent from beyond the arc through 43 games with the Knicks. He was also averaging 5.4 rebounds.
Not surprisingly, his numbers declined with the Clippers as his role diminished. In 19 games with Los Angeles, he averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 31.0 percent from the perimeter. His move backward in efficiency was surprising since shooting should've theoretically been easier on a better team with more scoring threats.
The Clippers lost 112-103 to the Los Angeles Lakers on March 8. Morris missed all nine of his shot attempts, including an 0-of-7 clip from three-point territory.
Two nights later, he went 3-of-4 for nine points in L.A.'s 131-107 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Following the game, head coach Doc Rivers thought the former Kansas Jayhawk was turning a corner, per The Athletic's Jovan Buha:
"I thought we got so much out of that and I thought Marcus, showing his highlights, which were not great, in the Laker game, and offensively, he made some points, 'Man, I gotta move the ball here.'" And one of our other players, 'Yeah, man, that's what you could do in New York, right now, this is what we need.'"
The obvious irony is that the NBA shut down shortly thereafter—as Morris was perhaps finding his footing—due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Few teams were probably hurt more by the lengthy hiatus than the Clippers as the chemistry problems they experienced lingered into the restart. The wheels fell off as Los Angeles threw away a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs.
That led to some soul-searching, with Rivers quickly dispatched and Ty Lue hired in his place. Some tough decisions would be required on the roster side as well.
Buha reported in February the Clippers were open to re-signing both Morris and Montrezl Harrell, another unrestricted free agent who has since signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also noted the team had the ability to offer him as much as $18 million due to controlling his non-Bird rights.
That made things relatively straightforward for the purposes of Morris' free agency.
By staying in Los Angeles, he could earn a market-level deal while still suiting up for a title contender. The Clippers, meanwhile, would've struggled to replace him with a player of similar quality given their lack of salary-cap space this summer.
Morris is a solid floor-spacer and rebounder who can guard multiple positions. Those skills make him a valuable piece of their rotation going forward.