Rockets rookie Marcus Morris was called up to the Rockets today.
In less than three days, the Rockets have called up their two most interesting prospects from the Vipers. First, it was undrafted rookie center Greg Smith. Then, today, they brought up Marcus Morris, their 6-foot-9 small forward and the 13th pick in last year’s NBA draft.
Morris averaged 22.8 points and 9.1 rebounds in 10 games as a Viper. He also played another game in which he suffered an ankle injury in the contest’s first minute, leading to a lengthy stay of inactivity. He is now healthy, however, as he pretty much had his way with D-League competition.
The Vipers play just one game the rest of this month, so reports are the Rockets didn’t feel Morris would be helped by just chillin’ all day and night in McAllen. Even if he doesn’t play much here, at least he’ll get to soak in more of the NBA life, which is really what he should have been doing to begin with, but I digress. Before he was sent down to the D-League, Morris played 17 minutes in three games with the Rockets in the early part of the season. He hit 2 of his 10 shots, 1 of his 2 free throws, and amassed two rebounds and two fouls with five points.
Morris enters a tight forward contingent of Patrick Patterson, Chandler Parsons and Chase Budinger. Patterson and Parsons have been mainstays pretty much throughout, as it helps that both are as strong defensively as they are offensively. Budinger’s minutes have come and gone, depending on his shooting. Where Morris fits in, I’m not sure. His situation is unlike Smith’s, as Smith was brought on board once Jordan Hill went down with an injury. Even with Hill fine, the Rockets still lacked strength in the paint.
The Rockets have considered Morris to be NBA-ready from an offensive standpoint, which, reading between the lines, means he is far from ready defensively. If Morris can be more of an asset defensively than Budinger, I don’t think it will take much to take his spot, as Morris is more rounded offensively, has more size and can do more things with the ball.
It would be assumed that Morris would not see too much time before the all-star break this weekend. The Rockets host Memphis tonight and Philadelphia on Wednesday. Wins against both could go a long way toward building more confidence, and both teams have quality swingmen that may make it hard for Rockets coach Kevin McHale to throw Morris into the fire so soon.