As media members slowly filled the Orlando practice facility on Monday, there was a small buzz when, collectively, everyone realized that the first game would include Adam Morrison, the floppy haired 3rd pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
Standing outside the Amway Center locker rooms, the former Gonzaga star’s 6’8 lean body and long hair still strike an impressive figure. But when HOOPSADDICT.com talked to him on Thursday, we asked what he had improved since he left the NBA.
Morrison grimaced, then forced a smile.
“I’m not sure,” he said, and the implication was clear: move on to another question.
It was a moment of uncomfortable honesty. This uncertainty has seemed to plague Morrison throughout the Summer League.
In Brooklyn’s first game on Monday, Morrison started off well, scoring the first four points for the Nets off short floaters. But playing off the ball has never been Morrison’s strong suit and as the game progressed and this teammates became more comfortable, Morrison’s touches became fewer and further between.
After taking four shots in the first quarter, Morrison took just three the rest of the way. He had just nine field goal attempts in 31 minutes on Tuesday, and on Wednesday and Thursday, Morrison played just 13 and seven minutes respectively.
“I had a good camp,” Morrison said. “I haven’t been playing well here. Hopefully I can play better in Vegas and see what happens.”
Watching his minutes gradually trickle away may feel uncomfortably familiar to Morrison. A phenom in college, a lack of athleticism and confidence doomed him in the NBA. His field goal percentages were consistently disappointing, and as he struggled, his minutes per game dipped lower and lower until they fell into single digits in his final two seasons.
After spending two consecutive years watching the Lakers win championships from the bench in 2009 and 2010, Morrison took his talents overseas. In 2011, he traveled to Serbia before playing in Turkey for 16 games in 2012. Despite averaging 31 minutes per game in Turkey, Morrison left because he wasn’t pleased with his playing time. So now, as the Brooklyn Nets have brought him back to the United States for Summer League, Morrison, like most other players, is trying out for a roster spot.
“Overseas, you’re not going to have the nicer things you have in the League,” Morrison said. “Obviously the play is a little bit different. The game is really different.”
In Turkey, Morrison was effective. Though his three point percentages never topped .400, even with a shorter line, Morrison was able to get shots closer to the basket and score the ball inside the arc.
He shot .513 from the field overall in Turkey and averaged 13.7 points per game.
“I just want people to see that I’m healthy, that I can move and that I can play a little defense,” Morrison said. “Hopefully people understand I feel like I can still score in this league. So maybe it will happen.”
Confidence is a strange phenomenon. For Jacob Pullen (profiled yesterday by Hoops Addict), confidence gives him a desire to have the ball in crunch time. It gives players a knowledge, even if the knowledge is false, that they are the best player on the court, and that belief can be part of what makes a player great.
“Maybe it will happen.”
The spoken implication, of course, is that Morrison hasn’t given up hope, but the unspoken implication is that an NBA comeback might not happen. He doesn’t know whether or not he will make a roster. He isn’t certain.
For Adam Morrison, and for any NBA player, uncertainty does not bode well for the future.