SAN FRANCISCO — The locker room was cleared and his Knicks teammates already were on the bus late Wednesday night when Marcus Morris finally was out of the shower and dressed, ready to head out into the night after doing all he could to get the Knicks their first win in more than three weeks.
He finished with 36 points, and a missed free throw in the final seconds of overtime was all that prevented him from matching his career high. In a battle of the two worst teams in the NBA, the Knicks survived a nightmarish collapse and beat the Golden State Warriors, 124-122.
An exhausting win over the now-worst team that ended a 10-game losing streak serves as a highlight right now for the Knicks. But Morris, who might be the most coveted player on the roster when players signed this past summer become eligible to be traded Sunday, isn’t looking forward to a chance to depart for a playoff contender.
However, with his expiring contract, scoring ability and experience making him very attractive to a team in need of help, he knows a trade could be made.
“I’m aware of that,” Morris said. “It’s part of the game. I’m going to keep saying like I said in the beginning. I love being in New York. Win, lose or draw, I’m here to try to help turn this thing around. You know, I’m not really looking to get traded. That’s just my personal opinion. That’s my approach. But this is the NBA.”
Morris was in the playoffs in three of the previous four seasons, first with the Pistons and then with the Celtics the last two seasons. Even though the Knicks are more likely to begin unloading contracts than to make a playoff run, he isn’t seeking an exit.
“Yeah, I’d rather help turn this thing around,” he said. “[Carmelo Anthony] said it best. Some guys are not built for New York. I’m built for New York. I’d rather be here and I’d rather help and I’d rather anchor it.”
Morris not only is the most attractive of the seven free agents signed by the Knicks over the summer, he is the only one who wasn’t grabbed in a rush of musical chairs after the club saw the stars they were seeking agree to deals with other teams.
He is averaging a team-high 19 points, a career high. He has been connecting on 48.9 percent of his three-point attempts, third-best in the NBA and the best percentage of his career by far.
While Morris joked this week that he gave up his intent to model his game on Anthony’s when he saw he would not get the opportunities that Anthony had in New York, he finally has gotten the touches and shots that he once dreamed of getting.
But he said that wasn’t his intent when he opted to join the Knicks on a one-year, $15 million deal during the summer, spurning a verbal agreement on a two-year deal with the Spurs.
“Nah, that wasn’t what I was looking for,” Morris said. “I was just looking for a great spot where I felt like I was wanted. I felt like I’d be really valuable for a team in a lot of different ways and not just shooting threes or scoring, in the locker room, all that.”