Markieff Morris, the 29-year-old forward, is coming over from the Washington Wizards (along with a 2023 second round draft pick) to finish the final season of his four-year, $32 million deal. He has not hit the court since December 26 due to a neck injury, though the most recent timeline provided by the Wizards suggests he may be ready to suit up for the Pelicans sometime soon.
No longer suiting up in New Orleans will be Wesley Johnson, who was acquired back in October from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Alexis Ajinca. Johnson appeared in 26 games for New Orleans this season but a mere seven times since December 5th.
The primary motivation behind a trade consisting of two players on expiring contracts was to get Washington below the luxury tax, which this move, in conjunction with the Wizards trade of Otto Porter Jr. to the Chicago Bulls earlier this evening, has allowed them to do just that.
Sources: The Wizards have moved off Otto Porter and Markieff Morris tonight to go under luxury tax threshold --- but have no plans to move All-Star Bradley Beal before the deadlne.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 7, 2019
Whether or not Morris, who played under Alvin Gentry in Phoenix when he first entered the league, ever suits up for New Orleans is insignificant. Rather, its the fact that the Pelicans turned a player that was not contributing on the court, and was not likely to do so at any point during the rest of this season, into an actual asset. The Bird rights to Morris, which the Pelicans also inherit, are worth keeping an eye on in case an opportunity for a sign-and-trade at season’s end presents itself.
If we learned anything from this move, it’s that Dell Demps is at least picking up the phone from somebody.