Is Darius Morris time in LA (and maybe the NBA) nearing an end?

Submitted by Butterfield on December 12th, 2012 at 9:53 AM

I ask this question because the Lakers are 9-13.  They are without starting PG Steve Nash and lost last night to the awful Cleveland Cavaliers with Morris only getting 7 (unproductive) minutes, logging 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 turnover and 0 points on 0/1 shooting.  Chris Duhon got nearly all of the tick at the point with talk that the Lakers will sign Eddie House to take on the point role in Nash's absence. 

If there was going to be a time for D-Mo to have established a role for himself, this was the time.  But his minutes have shrank over the last ten games and now the Lake Show is fishing from the barrel of ancient point guards who were never great to begin with. 

Yeah he makes good money (for now, anyways) and the NBA was his dream but man, don't you think he wishes he made the decision Trey did, seeing how his national star is burning brighter than it did at even the best moments last year?

In any event, good luck D-Mo. 


Blue boy johnson

December 12th, 2012 at 10:37 AM ^

Bottom line: Darius Morris, overall, is not as talented as Trey Burke.

They play the game very differently, but by NBA standards, Burke is a much better player. Defensively, because he is bigger, you might give the edge to Darius, but offensively, I don't know any facet of the game that I wouldn't rate Burke as the better player.

I Like Burgers

December 12th, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

Morris shoots 40% on his 3pt attempts, which amongst PGs in the NBA is actually 12th best.  His problem is his 2pt shots where he's shooting a godawful 30.4% which is tied for 79th amongst PGs.  And making things worse, his assist-turnover ratio isn't that good either at 1.75 (tied for 61st for PGs).  An unproductive PG that can't shoot is a bad combo and it doesn't matter who your coach is, that'll earn you some time on the pine and maybe over in Europe if he gets cut.


December 12th, 2012 at 10:09 AM ^

His time in LA is just about up, but I think he'll get scooped out somewhere else. LA is a sinking ship. Nash is old and will play for a few years, Kobe has a few more years left. Dantoni and all the other players they keep bringing in are just bandages to cover up how flawed their roster is. After Kobe retires, it is going to be a long rebuild in LA.

But you completely are wrong about Darius wishing he made the same decision Trey did, because as gordie bell said, Trey will make the same decision that Darius did.


December 12th, 2012 at 10:31 AM ^

Its basically a certainty that Maimi will have to brake up their big 3 after next season.  They won't be able to pay the luxury tax when their tax rate increases.  At that point I think between salaries and the tax they'd be spending 140 million on players.  They don't have the money to do that and I'm sure Lebron is aware of that.  If I were betting I'd say Lebron is a Laker by 2015.


December 12th, 2012 at 12:00 PM ^

Trey Burke will not make the same decision Darius Morris did, because their situations will never be equal.  Darius was a borderline late first early second round pick by even the most optimistic projections.  Burke started out the year ranked in the 20'a by many, but if he keeps playing the way he is, he could be a lottery pick by the end of the season.

Burke is a sure first-rounder.  Morris went in the middle third of the second round at #41.  There is a huge difference in compensation, and first round picks fare better in personnel decisions due to the larger investment the teams have made in them.

Trey Burke will get a nice, fat contract with a team that is in need of his services and hoping to scratch its way up the food chain.  Darius Morris was almost an afterthought in LA.  Those are not even close to being the same situation.


December 12th, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

 D-Mo's  stock was not going to rise any furtther than he had when he left.  That is why I think he made the right decision.  He was going to be the same thing after last year, a tall point with limited scoring capacity and nice court vision, that is him for better or worse.  I don't think he is the type of player that was going to develop any more than he did in college.  Hardaway's breakout freshman year did nice things for Morris' stats and Michigan got some good pub from their good showing against Duke.  And Morris was very effective in the second half of the Duke game.  Morris was not projected to some all time great pro prospect when he was coming in, going where he went in the draft was more than expected.  Sometimes making the right move entering the draft is not about longevity but about that first contract and knowing when you have caught lightning in a bottle. 


December 12th, 2012 at 2:23 PM ^

not think that people thought that about Burke last year at all.  I did not expect much from him coming in, but I could tell half way through the season that he was an NBA player and a good one.  I never thought that about Morris, I thought that after his second year that he could grab a spot on an NBA roster, get a few nice checks and then get some slightly less nice checks overseas.  I thought returning for another year could have had three possible results, 1)going exactly the same place in the draft one year later (best possible result), 2) injury, 3) it becomming painfully obvious that he cannot shoot and really can only go one direction with the ball (and possibly not being drafted at all).  I think going when he went was the only decision.  With Burke the sky is the limit, with Morris, he had already exceeded his limit and he damn well knew it. 


December 12th, 2012 at 12:56 PM ^

after his second season and are now pretending you weren't. There's too little equivalency in their cases anyway, and Darius is on record as saying he is glad he did what he did. 

Why second-guess the guy's life decisions? Unproductive. He has now made some large bills doing what he wanted to do instead of studying and doing what he wanted to do, and can come back and finish school or get a college degree when and if he wants.


December 12th, 2012 at 1:01 PM ^

Are you an amateur idiot, or certified?  I'm well aware and have always been well aware that Morris declared after his sophomore season after having a fairly nondescript freshman year. 

As to your second paragraph, I'm glad Darius is happy.  That doesn't change the fact that he could have made a bad decision which cost him money/years in the league.  If we can't debate those questions here, then....well, we can debate those issues here.  And you can fuck off. 


December 12th, 2012 at 10:17 AM ^

If he hasn't improved enough with NBA coaching/resources, then there's definitely no guarantee he would have made that improvement with another year at UM, I don't think his draft decision really is important here

Johnny Blood

December 12th, 2012 at 10:32 AM ^

At this point, he is in the NBA.  Regardless of when he made the decision to leave, if he is having trouble finding a role and sticking with his team, it doesn't really matter much when or how he got there.  Might have been drafted a bit higher with one more year under his belt, might have gotten some more money upfront, etc 

But in the end of the day, once there he's got to make plays to stay on the team.

I'm hoping that this is just a bad fit for him and he gets picked up by someone else who can better utilized his talents.

I Like Burgers

December 12th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

LA was probably the best landing spot for him in the NBA.  Its home, so its comfortable, and its on a team with scorers and in desparate need of a PG.  Given all of that, he hasn't been able to deliver.  If/when he gets cut/traded by the Lakers, I don't think he's got a long NBA shelf life.  Not a lot of reasons for another team to take a flier on him.


December 12th, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

It's probably good for him off-court, as I know he's done some stuff in TV, but on-court it's hard to say what was best for his development.  He did spend some time in the NBDL, but he might have been better served being a backup to a more traditional PG and working in a more traditional offense rather than shuffling between the Triangle, whatever Brown did, and DAntoni's thing.

If he leaves the Lakers he'll probably have to go to Europe (or the NBDL), but there's a good chance a tall PG with his skills will remerge.  Look at Shaun Livingston's career as an example.  Different players, but you don't have to be an all-star to have a long NBA career, obviously.


December 12th, 2012 at 4:00 PM ^

catch, he has to become a decent shooter.  He needs to shoot the ball 1,000 times per day, change mechanics, find God, something.  I have watched him play a couple of times last year and he still throws it like a point guard for the Lady Vols (not that there is anything wrong with that).  He will not have success in the league as a PG if he cannot make an open three at at least a 35-37% clip, regardless of size.


December 12th, 2012 at 11:07 AM ^

This assertion that Darius would develop better in the NBA as a likely bench player than with another year of college as THE MAN strikes me as questionable at best. I say this because that is frequently not practiced in other professional sports. Take european soccer: clubs routinely buy promising talent and then loan them out to smaller clubs so they can get first team minutes. They value game experience over practicing with the best players but only seeing spot minutes, and the latter is what Darius was signing up for.

Maybe this is not the greatest comparison, because these on loan soccer players are still practicing all day instead of worrying about classes, but there is apparently something to be said for seeing significant playing time for development.


December 12th, 2012 at 11:52 AM ^

Seeing playing time is good, but in theory the best coaches are in the nba, you practice all day for the entire year.  The danger of stting on the bench is getting cut which is why guys should stay in college.  Its better to be able to improve your game without having to worry about keeping your job but if you have a contract it is better for  development to be in the nba.  The development league does exist, its not like the lakers have to keep him on the bench.

I Like Burgers

December 12th, 2012 at 1:46 PM ^

I disagree on the best coaches being in the NBA.  I think you have the best managers of egos in the NBA, but the guys that are best at teaching and getting the most out of their players are in college.  College coaches have to develop their talent a whole lot more than NBA coaches do.  Once players get to the NBA, they are by and large a mostly finished product.  Its not a place to learn on the job.


December 12th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

At the pro level you get to practice full time (no classes, study tables, etc.) almost year-round (no breaks for finals, short off-season.)

At the pro level you get world-class coaching/training (Beilein is no slouch but he is tasked with a lot of things - whereas teams like Dallas will have a coach devoted to every single player and that individual's development needs.)

At the pro level you compete against Kobe Bryant every day (compared to Albreht/Merrit/etc.)

It's difficult to consider NCAA basketball as a great developmental league once you've acheived even a moderate level of succes. Compared to the NBA there are far fewer games, the rules are different, and the competition isn't close (e.g., playing Binghamton).

Staying in NCAA is the MLB equivalent to being forced to play rookie-league ball for multiple seasons.  Not everyone is Mike Trout/Lebron James, but, in the absence of AA and AAA, it's better to take your lumps at the pro level than dominate amateur competition.  The Soccer equivalent is playing in the Moldovian league vs Spain/England/Italy/Germany - the equivalent to the Netherlands, Poland, and Austria don't exist (though maybe the NBDL is getting there.)

Morris' biggest limitations (shooting, quickness) weren't going to move as quickly in the NCAA as they would in the NBA. 

Ultimately, I don't think it matters as much as people think.  Some guys have the talent, others do not.  There are certainly people on the margins who make it (or don't) due to their development strategy, but it's not a 'game-changer' for most.

If you are one of those people on the margins - it would seem that the more-challenging and rigorous route to preparation would be MUCH better than the low-impact and low-difficulty one.


December 12th, 2012 at 10:39 AM ^

To your main point, it's not looking very promising right now.  Morris was always the type that needs the ball in his hands to be effective, he either can't handle doing that at an NBA level or isn't given the chance on a  team with Kobe and other ball dominators 

  I don't think this is his last chance in the NBA though


December 12th, 2012 at 11:05 AM ^

Not that I think it will matter one bit to the next kid making the decision but the Burke V Morris decision to stay or leave provides a great blueprint on what to do and not to do.  Both enjoyed a breakout season (Burke as a Freshman, Morris as a Sophomore) which moved them onto the NBA draft radar.  Neither was considered much of a prospect by anyone nationally beforehand.  Both were projected to go deep first round at best or early to mid second round by the draftnicks.  Morris left and Burke stayed.

Now - Burke stayed the extra year has shot up the boards even higher and is being talked about as a probable lottery pick and perhaps even one of the first guards selected.  As such he will get guarenteed money and with it guarenteed playing time.  Morris, on the other hand, came out, was drafted mid-second round and got neither guarenteed money nor any obligation to playing time to justify his high draft selection.

The problem is that many of these kids dont look at what's happened before them because everyone is screaming in their ear that they are the greatest thing ever and need to take the money now.  It's rare nowdays for someone like Burke to stay but I think in the end he will be handsomely rewarded for his decision.  Hopefully the next time somebody wearing maize n blue has to make that call (GRIII perhaps) he will look at the two point guards and realize that one more year of playing time can pay huge dividends long term.


December 12th, 2012 at 12:44 PM ^

It's very possible that if Morris stayed, he develops more, the UM team has even more success than they did, he gets drafted in a better situation and everyone is happy

Other possibilities if he comes back-

-  a very similar Morris comes back but then this Burke guy starts shining, and the question becomes "He might not be the best PG on his own team, why am I taking Morris in the 1st round?"

-A similar Morris does essentially the same and he gets drafted later/undrafted only because he's older (and therefore less of the potential that GMs love)

- He gets injured, everyone has a sad face

- Some of his weaknesses get more exposed and his stock falls

I'm not saying he made the perfect decision, I'm saying either decision (NBA draft or coming back) had advantages and risks, he took one.  He didn't make a bad decision, he made a very defensible one that gave him his dream.  So far, it hasn't worked out for him...but just because things MAY have been better otherwise, that doesn't make him wrong, evil, stupid or anything else (I know you aren't making all of those arguments, but they do get made)


December 12th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

Morris' initial contract wasn't guaranteed, it is true, but he has earned a contract since then and has been well paid -- far more than he would have been paid that year at Michigan, that much is certain.  You can't get that year back.

The assumption that his stock would have shot up the following season is highly dubious.  There are many examples of players that did not (just as there are many examples of players that did.)

Very few players get 'obligations to playing time'.  The NBA is a hard league - if you can't play, you won't.

Morris, pretty clearly, made a decision that worked out very well.  He's an example of why leaving early is a good idea - and he's made enough to easily afford paying for 2 more years of school already, if he ever wants to earn his degree, he still can.  He lost nothing by leaving early.


December 12th, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

To earn double the low rate he was making to make that extra year without pay moot, and your whole point moot. You can't say he lost nothing when you just said it was 50-50 on him improving his draft stock vs. not. If it's "dubious" to say he would have, it's just as dubious to say he wouldn't have. 

And all this training in the NBA...NBA coaches aren't concerned with taking time to make their players better. They're on a short schedule and an even shorter leash and they're concerned with getting a team prepared to win the next game.  Players get better in the NBA on their own, mostly. Can that be done more easily with all that free time to practice? Yeah. (If one assumes NBA guys are really spending all their free time working on their game. Uh huh.)  Is it better than less practice time but actual instruction, and game experience? Maybe, maybe not.


December 12th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

The NBA minimum salary is over 400K and doubles within 2 years for players not in the NBA.  That's not nuthin, but more importantly it gets a player to their free agent contract faster.  An extra year is generally more valuable than 10 spots in the draft, unless you're talking about the upper half of the lotto (where Morris was never going to be anyway.)

I didn't say it was 50-50 on him improving his draft stock - especially with a draft that was considered to be very deep the following season.  Frankly, I don't think Morris was going to improve his stock much, if at all, unless he showed marked improvement in shooting 3 pointers.  It's possible Morris' status would have actually gone down and he would already be in Europe if he had stayed.

If you think NBA coaches don't try to make players better, you're not paying attention.  Head coaches - OK, but you can make the same argument for college I think.  The head guys are tasked with too many other things to focus on individual development.  But the NBA has many many assistant coaches.  Dallas has them for every player - so I'm not sure where that argument is coming from other than pure cynicism or an anti-NBA perspective.

For Morris - the biggest thing to improve was shooting and defense.  Having a full day available to focus on that - and trying to guard players like Bryant in practice.  I think Darius developed faster doing what he did.

I don't know how 82 games makes for a short schdule.  I'm sure they practice more than NCAA teams, even accounting for travel and gamedays, considering you're still at least getting shoot-arounds on game-days.


December 12th, 2012 at 4:07 PM ^

Michigan doesn't play again till Saturday. Then not again till next Thursday. You think they're spending Sun-Weds getting ready for Eastern? Or getting better?  In the NBA you'll have 3 games in 4 nights. They hardly have time to get ready for the next team, no more making sure a 2nd rounder is any good. 

Where do I get that from? Profesional coaches who don't have the time, interest, or worry about a second round pick they may not even of had a say in drafting developing. If that was the case Larry Brown would have played Darko. And the rate they fire coaches in the NBA doesn't allow them to be concerned with anything else. If you think otherwise, you're just fooling yourself.

You said Burke should leave early too because his stock couldn't go up, and you were wrong there too.


December 12th, 2012 at 5:11 PM ^

I think an NBA player, even a bench player, is going to spend a lot more time playing basketball and working on their skillset than a college player over the next half week.  Michigan's players are going to be focused on classwork, finals, etc.  Most of them aren't going to the NBA and that's who the NCAA schedule is focused on.  This is not NBA-prep, it's heavily regulated amateur college athletics.  Burke can probably coast academically next term, knowing that he's entering the draft, but for now he has to stay eligible, at the very least.

Furthermore, what about looking beyond the 5-month NCAA season?  Access to coaches is extremely limited in the offseason, whereas the NBA season starts a month earlier and ends at least that, not to mention Summer League for most younger developing players like Morris.

If you don't think Darko got a lot of coaching attention you're being willfully ignorant. You do realize that NBA teams have more than one coach right?   Do you also think employees at corporations aren't managed because they don't talk to their CEO everyday?

Some people don't have the ability to be All-Star NBA players - it's not for a lack of coaching effort.  Moreover, Darko's had a 10 year NBA career - he's viewed as a failure only because of where he was selected.  Morris doesn't have to deal with that stigma or the pressure that comes with a high draft selection.  That might help too.

Frankly, I don't think "stock going up" makes much of a difference in the end.  Would Kevin Garnett have been better off if his "stock went up" - or was he better off developing his game in the NBA and reaching free agency sooner?  He would have been drafted higher, but he also would have sacrificed 10s of millions of dollars in lost earnings if he had gone to college (of course, he would have had to have been eligible to do that.)    Years drawing pay is more important than rookie salary, in the end.  There are exceptions to that rule (mostly for guys taken in the lottery), but for most it's true.


December 12th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

Morris made 972K last year and 1.2M this year.

The 972K he made last year is more than several 1st rounders got.

If you factor in his 2-year pay, he would have had to have been drafted no lower than the 8th pick to make back the money in year 1

From a financial perspective - there's no question he made the right call.



December 12th, 2012 at 4:02 PM ^

Because just like he signed more than the projection for a 2nd rounder, so did everyone else last year sign for more than the minimum projection.

Fab Melo at 22 (late first pick) made $1,255k and $1,311k. And he has an option for more years, and much more likelihood to stick in the league and make those years because teams can't just throw away first round picks.  And it's guaranteed from the start, so he gets the money. He was rolling the dice that he'd even get a second year. Or for that matter, a first.

Get up to 15 and John Henson made $1,823k and $1,905k, and he lost a one million point five dollars over two years. (And it the amount increases with every extra year he plays). So not hardly having to get up to 8. You chose one stat for one, and another for the other, so your "facts" are wrong. And so is your conclusion.

(from your own link- )