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Darius Morris keeping free agency options open

May 23, 2012
  • Lakers guard Darius Morris says he wants to use the summer league to show his talents to other NBA teams.
Lakers guard Darius Morris says he wants to use the summer league to show… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

The crux of Darius Morris' exit interview with Mike Brown and Mitch Kupchak centered around the NBA Summer League.

That's because the Lakers want to see a few things. They want to see how much growth he experiences this off-season. They want to see if Morris in an elevated role will give them a better idea as to whether they should consider him in the team's future.

Meanwhile, Morris enters this off-season wanting to use the summer league, which goes from July 13-22 in Las Vegas, to impress two parties. One involves the Lakers, where he averaged 2.4 points on 42.9% shooting in 8.9 points per game his rookie season. One involves other NBA teams, which Morris hopes would walk away impressed enough to grant him a larger role.

"I love it here in L.A," Morris said Wednesday following his exit interview at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "But being a young player, it's really important to be somewhere where you feel like you have an opportunity to play and get to grow on the court, most importantly. Little things like that will be a factor. We'll see what happens."

The Lakers still face inconsistent backcourt issues. Although they upgraded at point guard with the acquisition of Ramon Sessions, he shot just 37.7% from the field during the postseason. Backup point guard Steve Blake hit critical shots in various games throughout the playoffs, but that production came in spurts. And they didn't make up for it on defense. Neither Sessions nor Blake fared better than Derek Fisher has in seasons past in defending elite point guards.

As for Morris, the Lakers have the right to match any contract offer he receives. But it remains to be seen how much value they'll place on Morris, who described his rookie season as "up and down." He saw more playing time in January when Blake got hurt. After Morris averaged 3.6 points on 40% shooting through seven games, Brown replaced him with Lakers rookie guard Andrew Goudelock

Morris said Brown gave him some indications he would have a larger role next season, although it came with no guarantees.

"It's basically up to me to come in, be ready and work hard," Morris said. "There are certain things I need to work on to step on that floor. It's not impossible for me to get minutes next year."

Hence, the upcoming summer league could play a large part in determining Morris' NBA future. 

"Summer league will be big for me just because certain teams liked me coming into the draft, but just in case," Morris said. "I have gotten way better since then. It will give a chance for all the teams to see me, not just the Lakers. Other GMs and other coaches will be there. It will be a good experience for me and a good opportunity."


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