NBA lockout: Darius Morris has no regrets turning pro
With the NBA lockout appearing to have no end in sight, Lakers rookie guard Darius Morris remains hunkered in local college and high school gyms.
But Morris maintained after a workout Wednesday at Loyola Marymount University that he prefers this routine than returning to University of Michigan for his junior season. Morris considered the prospect of a lost 2011-2012 campaign before giving up his final two years of eligibility, and said he holds zero regrets.
"Playing against pros will translate better in improving my game from the college to pro level," Morris said. "There's a lot of positives to leaving early. The opportunity in my position with the Lakers is something a lot of people desire to have."
Morris entered a relatively weak draft class last summer and was taken by the Lakers 41st overall. He doesn't have a contract with the Lakers, but he's managed to still get by financially. He also appeared in a two-game exhibition showcase last month in Mexico. Meanwhile, he's practiced frequently at Mira Costa High School and LMU, where he's played alongside NBA players including O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin. He said he's also already played against some of his future teammates, including Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes and Luke Walton.
Morris saw first-hand how Bryant benefitted from a prolonged offseason and an innovative procedure on his surgically repaired right knee.
"Kobe looked great, as always," said Morris, who averaged a Big Ten-leading 4.2 assists his sophomore season. "He's better in person. He looks like he's moving smoothly and he's strong on his jump shot. Everything is high level."
Morris and Tyrell Jamerson, a former UNLV guard who's trained Morris this summer, pointed to numerous parts of his game that benefited strictly from playing pick-up scrimmages with other NBA players. That included his off-ball movement, defensive technique and three-point shooting, a weak spot in his game considering his 25% clip last season. Even if a prolonged lockout may prompt Morris to consider playing overseas or finish his degree, he maintains to his Twitter followers that this beats the alternative.
"Once you make a decision, you can't dwell on the negative," Morris said. "You have to take everything into account before making a decision. You have to take a step back and wonder if the risk is worth the reward. I think it definitely was in this case."
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Photo: Michigan guard Darius Morris goes for a layup against Illinois in the Big Ten Conference tournament game. Credit: Michael Conroy / Associated Press