Nets reportedly finalizing deal with Morris
Journeyman forward needs to prove he is healthy first
The Brooklyn Nets are closing in on a one-year deal with veteran free-agent power forward Markieff Morris, according to an ESPN report on Tuesday.
Morris, 32, must pass a physical before the signing can be completed, according to the 24-hour sports network.
The 6-foot-9 former first-round pick out of Kansas logged 17 games with the Miami Heat last season, missing 58 contests following a spat with Denver’s Nikola Jokic.
Morris suffered a whiplash injury during the scuffle and the Nets’ interest could wane if he is unable to pass their battery of tests.
Last February, Brooklyn traded disgruntled forward James Harden to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry, but Simmons never played due to mental health issues and a bad back.
Brooklyn, which now expects both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to be back in the fold in 2022-23 after shopping the superstar tandem individually, would like to bolster its frontline with a reliable presence off the bench.
Morris, who played alongside his twin brother Marcus at the University of Kansas, averaged 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game last season for the Heat.
He has averages of 10.9 points and 5.2 boards per contest over a 12-year career that has seen hsi travel through Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit, Oklahoma City and Washington.
The Nets, who will open their preseason slate at Barclays Center on Oct. 3 vs. Philadelphia, spent most of this summer trying to find a suitable deal for Durant, who asked out of Brooklyn in June and even intimated that he might stay if general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash were fired.
Nets owner Joe Tsai refused to comply and the organization announced last week that Durant and the team would be “moving forward” with their partnership.
Irving was on the trade block after the Nets refused to give him a long-term deal following their first-round playoff elimination at the hands of defending Eastern Conference champion Boston.
The mercurial point guard did opt in to his $36.5 million for this coming season.
In other local pro sports news, former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder weighed in on his Oct. 15 showdown with Robert Helenius at Downtown’s Barclays Center during an afternoon press conference.
“I’m looking forward to October 15 and sharing the ring with Robert. I highly respect Robert and his team,” said Wilder, who will be making his fifth appearance at Barclays and first since 2019, when he scored a first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale.
“We’ve always had a connection, but unfortunately in this business, you have to go against each other sometimes. But make no mistake, just because we know each other, it doesn’t mean this fight won’t be interesting.”
Interesting or not, Wilder (42-2-1) needs a win over Helenius to shake off back-to-back losses to current champ Tyson Fury, including an 11th-round KO defeat last October.
“Over these years everyone has seen what I’m capable of doing and what my mindset is when I step in there,” Wilder said.
“Everyone knows what I’m coming with on the 15th and what we’re going to give. Whether it’s for our family, our country or our fans, there’s one night and one fight, it’s going to be fireworks.”
Helenius (31-3) is coming off back-to-back wins over heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki, the first of which was right here in Downtown Brooklyn on March 7, 2020.
“I’ve promised my fans in Finland that I would bring the world title back home and sometimes you have to go through a lot to get there,” said Helenius.
“But I’m going to do everything I can. We’re doing all the extra work that we need to.”
Tickets for the event, which will co-feature a middleweight clash between Anthony Direll and Caleb Plant as well as several other preliminary bouts, are on sale and can be purchased through seatgeek.com and barclayscenter.com.
Tickets are also available for purchase in-person at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center.
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