Throughout this season to date, the Los Angeles Lakers - with a stellar 43-12 record - have always been thought as a team at least one piece short of solidifying themselves as a legitimate title contender alongside the Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks.
The two weaknesses identified have been a playmaking point guard and a long defensive wing that can also shoot. However, the Lakers may have finally found the latter piece by signing forward Markieff Morris, who was waived by the Detroit Pistons.
At 6'8 and a muscular 245 pounds, Morris is big and versatile enough to play all three frontcourt positions, but will primarily play as a backup power forward to Anthony Davis. This signing moves Kyle Kuzma to perhaps his most natural position at small forward, having played the bulk of his young career either there or occasionally at center.
This moves Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - an unsung hero after a horrendous start - into his natural shooting guard position. KCP has played extensive minutes at SF and even PG this season, though perhaps a player who could be the odd man out in Frank Vogel's rotation is Alex Caruso, arguably their most consistent point guard this season after LeBron James.
Markieff's presence fills some much-needed gaps
Morris' arrival will also shave some minutes off their two stars in LeBron and Davis as the season draws to a close, because keeping them fresh for the postseason is a clear necessity. The added intrigue surrounds Markieff's twin brother Marcus, as the pair will both be in LA and playing at Staples Center. The Clippers acquired forward Marcus Morris in a deal with the New York Knicks for swingman Moe Harkless at this month's trade deadline.
Ironically, the Lakers were in advanced discussions at the deadline with the Knicks about Morris, but the deal fell through when New York asked for Kuzma in return. Marcus is the more prolific scorer and shooter, while Markieff is a bit taller and heavier than his twin.
Other than that, they are identical in many facets - toughness, attitude, versatility, defense, and the ability to stretch the floor. They will surely match up with one another in the remaining regular season games, and potentially in the playoffs should the two LA teams meet. They have already discussed the possibility of carpooling to the arena if the latter occurs.Published 24 Feb 2020, 16:06 IST