LeBron James Marcus Morris
Lebron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket past Marcus Morris #13 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter of a game at TD Garden on Feb. 11, 2018 in Boston. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

In terms of talent, the 2019 free agent class was the best it has been in recent years with the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker all eligible to sign max contracts as unrestricted free agents. But there were many other players, that did not make the headlines but had multiple suitors and one of them was Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris.

The 29-year-old forward was wanted by the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs but Morris turned down multiple-year offers from those teams and signed a one-year $15 million deal with New York Knicks. But it was a surprise that the Celtics did not try to retain the player, especially since they were already losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency.

However, The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn reports that the Boston franchise did try and make a run at keeping Morris but it was an uphill climb as following the acquisition of Kemba Walker on a max contract from Charlotte Hornets. The Celtics held the forward’s bird rights but had to give it up when they acquired the point guard from the Hornets.

“Speaking of Celtics free agents, the question was asked, couldn’t the Celtics have re-signed Marcus Morris because they had his Bird rights if they were willing to pay the luxury tax?” The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn wrote, as quoted on NESN. “The answer is yes and no. Because the Celtics signed Kemba Walker into salary-cap space and did not execute an even sign-and-trade with Charlotte for Terry Rozier, the Celtics had to renounce Morris’s rights to bring Walker on.”

“The Celtics would have loved to have re-signed Morris and they tried to give themselves salary-cap flexibility by working on sign-and-trades with Brooklyn for Kyrie Irving and Philadelphia for Al Horford. But as expected, any deal with conference rivals can be difficult and both teams asked the Celtics for more draft pick compensation than they wanted to give."

“The teams didn’t want to take back players because they were already getting a max player in Irving and a near-max in Horford, so, to help the Celtics’ cap, Brooklyn and Philadelphia wanted first-round picks, something the Celtics were not willing to do. Perhaps the Celtics could have worked out a sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell with the Nets, but they already had their eyes on Walker,” he added.

Morris was not short of suitors as the forward along with his now-former agent Rich Paul had negotiated a three-year $41 million deal with the Clippers. He turned them down and had spoken with Spurs about a two-year deal worth $20 million but left them at the altar in the last minute to join the Knicks on a one-year deal, which will allow him to enter free agency next summer.

The former Celtics forward split with his agent Paul recently and it was believed that it was due to the failed Clippers move, but he has explained that his former agent wanted him to join the Los Angeles franchise. Morris also addressed his decision to reject Spurs’ offer in the last minute and sign with the Knicks.

“All this stuff that (Paul) didn’t want me to go to the Clippers and didn’t want me to go against LeBron (James), that’s not true,” Morris said, as quoted on NBC Sports. “He never told me not to take the deal. For as long as I’ve known Rich — and that’s still someone I have love for and that’s still my guy — he has been great in terms of advice. He told me he wanted me to take the Clippers deal. He gave me his advice. It was my decision and I had to make the best decision for me and my family.”

“I have a good relationship with those guys and I have so much respect for (head coach) Pop (Gregg Popovich), (general manager) RC (Buford) and (assistant GM) Brian Wright,” Morris added. “The first thing that I did when I knew I would be going another direction, I called and made sure they knew. There was no shade. There’s no disrespect. I had great conversations afterward, and as long as I feel that I’m clear with them and gave them my truth, I feel good about moving forward."

“I was under the impression that I didn’t have anything left. I thought at the time that the Spurs deal was all that I had. The process wasn’t what I expected and it didn’t go the right way,” he added.