Suns Continuing to Showcase Markieff Morris
The 2015-16 campaign has been one to forget for Phoenix Suns fans. The franchise lost their best player Eric Bledsoe for the season to a knee injury, has been besieged by a plethora of injuries up and down the roster and recently fired Jeff Hornacek as head coach. And the losses continue to mount.
Those are just some of the things that transpired during this ill-fated season.
The Suns’ problems stem back to last summer when the club traded forward Marcus Morris to the Detroit Pistons for a 2020 second-round pick. The traded Morris has thrived in Detroit, starting every contest and ranking in the league’s top 10 in average minutes per game.
But his twin brother, Markieff, hasn’t had the same upward trajectory while remaining in Phoenix. Morris didn’t react well to the news his brother was being traded, attacking the franchise via social media and embarking on a roller coaster season in regards to his on-court production compared to years past.
The question hasn’t been if the Suns will trade Morris, but when and for how much they would willing to settle for in return? Morris is a talented player, entering his prime years, but once word is out that a team has to move a player for chemistry reasons there aren’t a lot of suitors lining up at the door offering top assets.
Morris started all 82 games for Phoenix a season ago and appeared to be a key cog in their future. But this season, he’s started in just 20 out of his 33 appearances while racking up plenty of stints on the team’s inactive list.
However, with the trade deadline looming, the Suns have seemingly stepped up their efforts to get Morris more time on the floor in an effort to increase the disgruntled forward’s value.
After racking up six DNP-CDs over the prior 10 games, Morris has become a mainstay in the Suns’ rotations over the last five contests. During this stretch, Morris hasn’t played less than 24 minutes in any outing and even earned a spot in the starting lineup Tuesday versus Toronto in Earl Watson’s debut as head coach – posting 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two blocks in the team’s seven-point loss.
Over this five-game stretch, Morris is averaging 14 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 29 minutes of action. Morris is owed $8 million this season and $24 million through 2018-19. Although it would be a huge risk to take on the future money of a disgruntled guy, Morris won’t turn 30 until after his current deal expires and his salary could look like a steal if he returns to form since contract amounts are increasing significantly.
As Basketball Insiders publisher Steve Kyler pointed out late last month, Morris has been linked to the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans and Cleveland Cavaliers, but those talks were nothing more than exploratory in nature.
So far Watson has stated that he plans to fully “embrace” Morris and reiterated that the team needs his services. How much of that verbal praising by Watson is play-nice speech remains to be seen. But no team wants to lose a valuable asset for just peanuts on the dollar, especially a franchise in the beginning stages of what could be a very lengthy rebuild.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, it appears the Suns’ latest insertion of Morris into a prominent rotation role is a last ditch effort to showcase their former building block’s worth in order to drum up value.
The question is, will any team bite the bait? We’ll see, as well if a team is willing to give Phoenix anything of true value in return when the inevitable trade occurs.
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