Anthony Morrow could have joined any number of teams.
Shooters of his ilk draw a ton of interest, and Morrow reportedly was coveted by 12 clubs when free agency opened on July 1.
“It was a lot of teams,” Morrow said. “(Too many) teams to even name.”
He ultimately chose the Oklahoma City Thunder, inking his name Wednesday on a contract that could pay him up to $10 million over three seasons.
After five stops in his first six NBA seasons, Morrow now views OKC as a place he simply couldn’t pass up.
“I just saw an opportunity for myself in Oklahoma City, a void that could be filled,” Morrow said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman.
But there was more.
“I needed them,” Morrow added. “Everybody’s been telling me that the team needs me. I’m like, ‘I need them more than they need me. I’ve never been in the playoffs, so it’s just a situation where I’m glad to be able to step in.”
And the Thunder is happy to have him.
Morrow might just be the best pure shooter the Thunder has ever had. He’s shot 42.8 percent from 3-point range for his career and connected on 45.1 percent from that distance last season in New Orleans.
Oklahoma City ranked 14th among the league’s 30 teams in 3-point shooting last season at 36.1 percent and lost two of its top three bombers after the departures of Derek Fisher and Caron Butler.
Morrow is now expected to join Jeremy Lamb in helping the Thunder make up the difference.
“Anthony Morrow has demonstrated that he is amongst the most consistent and efficient 3-point shooters in the NBA over his career, and we are pleased to welcome him to Oklahoma City and the Thunder organization,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti. “With his body of work, we feel Anthony is a unique addition to a diverse roster, while also possessing the toughness and selflessness that we are consistently seeking in Thunder players.”
Spend just a few minutes chatting with Morrow and it becomes clear that he is humble and happy, yet still hungry for more. He talked about the Thunder’s star trio of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka and how enticing OKC was made by their presence. He talked about wanting to fit in with them and filling a role, whether starting or coming off the bench.
“I think I can fit in really well,” Morrow said. “They’re blue-collar guys. Not all the flash of any other city or anything like that. That’s the main thing. It’s just going to be about basketball, and that’s really all I’m thinking about.”
Undrafted out of Georgia Tech in 2008, Morrow initially latched on with Golden State. But in two seasons, those Warriors won a combined 55 games. Morrow was then traded to New Jersey, where he spent the next two seasons. Those Nets won a combined 46 games over that span.
But Morrow averaged double figures in scoring all four years and shot better than 42 percent from 3-point range in each of his first three seasons. He connected on a career-high and league-leading 46.7 percent from that distance as a rookie.
That didn’t stop the Nets from trading him to Atlanta and Atlanta later trading him to Dallas.
How could such a knockdown shooter be traded so many times in such a short span?
“I don’t know.” Morrow said. “I mean, it’s one of those things where, obviously, it’s a political side and I think I’ve just been caught in some situations that I didn’t really have any control over. But I feel like if you go back and ask any teammates of my old teams, or any executives or coaches, they’ll tell you that I’ve been one of the best teammates, one of the hardest working guys, high-character guys that they’ve probably ever been around.
“I think the main thing is just the side of it that’s a business. But a lot of guys get caught up in that that are good guys. It’s just unique when you see seven years and, like, five or six teams. You start questioning. But I don’t think you have to dig too deep to see what kind of person I am.”
Morrow now considers himself a diamond in the rough, one of many he sees go undrafted each year only to turn into a surprise performer. Despite his success, Morrow’s path to Oklahoma City, a place he can only hope will bring stability, has left him feeling as though he still must prove himself.
“For me, it’s just a chip on my shoulder,” Morrow said. “I’ve been like that, kind of like the underdog, for my whole career. And that’s something that I kind of hang my hat on at this point.”