In a contract year, what lies ahead for Marcus Morris?

In the first game of his contract year, Marcus Morris came out of the gate running in the 105-87 win against the 76'ers. In a back-up role on the second unit, Mook scored 16 points on 7-of-12 from the floor and 2-of-7 on treys. Marcus was second in scoring for the Celtics (behind Jayson Tatum's 23 points) while hauling down a team-high 10 boards, to go with two steals in only 20 minutes on the floor. For the record, Mook had zero assists.

Morris had an excellent game, and hopefully that production continues. He will earn $5.4 million this season and then go into free agency. Both Mook and Danny Ainge know that Morris is highly underpaid. The chance of him signing with Boston beyond this season for an amount that he feels is fair seems slim-to-none. So what happens now?

Beyond the money that Marcus will demand, he is a 29-year-old proven scorer and rebounder, an able defender - but considered somewhat of a black hole in the assist department. With his expiring contract, he could be part of a mid-season trade, but I consider that unlikely. Danny Ainge's best option may be to retain Morris through the season into the playoffs.

Morris' playoff production last season showed 12.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 29.6 MPG. Assuming Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis are available this post-season, Mook's playoff role may be lessened, however. But even in a reduced role, if Marcus can duplicate the efficiency he showed in the Philly game (16 points - 10 rebounds - 2 steals - 20 minutes), his presence on the second unit in the post-season could prove vital.

So in a contract year, Mook is already getting plaudits from his coach Brad Stevens, and it is to Morris' advantage to remain a productive player and fine citizen of the Celtics community. Unless Danny sees The Big Fish (Anthony Davis?) out there, my guess is that Mook remains a Celtic and then walks in free agency.

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Photo via Matt Stone/Boston Herald