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Let’s Trade Markieff Morris

Eric Saar takes a look at the Markieff Morris situation in Phoenix and some potential trade scenarios.

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It seems inevitable that the Phoenix Suns will trade Markieff Morris this season. It is not really a question of if, but a question of when. The nearly inseparable Morris twins were separated this offseason and there has been turmoil ever since.

Marcus (who now plays for the Detroit Pistons) badmouthed the Suns, saying as far as he was concerned he had never been a Phoenix Sun. Markieff publically demanded a trade in an interview with Keith Pompey in their hometown of Philadelphia and was fined by the league $10,000 for it. This is to say nothing of their pending court case for a felony aggravated assault that has added to the issues Phoenix has had trying to trade the embattled power forward.

At this point, it doesn’t appear that many teams are interested in Markieff Morris, with the clear exceptions being the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans. Morris has earned the reputation of being disruptive in the locker room and an unnecessary distraction.

The issue is not his on the court production, which was solid but not amazing (15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds) just last season. Those numbers have fallen off a cliff as his role has declined this season. Overall, Morris hasn’t been a part of the rotation for Phoenix, as management is probably preparing the team for life after trading him. However, Morris did play 17 minutes in the Suns’ victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, scoring 13 points with a plus/minus of +12, following a series of DNP-CDs over the last few weeks. But before Friday, he had only played seven minutes since December 6 and only because Alex Len had some foul trouble.

Phoenix won’t get anything substantial for Morris at this time with his trade value so low, but he may garner a slightly higher return come the February trade deadline as other teams get desperate or willing to take a chance on Morris.

Considering all of this, let’s take a look at some viable trade scenarios for Markieff Morris.

Markieff Morris for Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Pelicans)

This is the best-case scenario for Phoenix. The ultimate stretch-four, Ryan Anderson would typically be a starter on any other team if he wasn’t backing up superstar Anthony Davis. Anderson is a sharpshooter from deep (42.2 percent from three for his career), which is exceptional for a player who stands at 6’10. The caveat, and the reason they’d give him up for Morris, is that Anderson is a free agent at the end of the season and may command a near-max contract on the free agency market. The Pelicans just want to get something for Anderson before he “walks” since they will likely hesitate to offer him what he will probably get as a free agent.

Markieff Morris for Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones (Houston Rockets)

Brewer recently signed a contract and, therefore, can’t be traded until January 15. This is probably the second-best haul in return for Morris with both Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones being energy and hustle guys. They aren’t limited to that, though. Brewer can hit the occasional three (including this crazy one to force overtime) and he gets out in transition and plays some defense. Jones is a 6’9 power forward who can stroke the three (40.5 percent this season on limited attempts). He also has the athleticism and raw potential to be quite good moving forward

The Rockets are disappointed that with their talented roster, they are under .500 at 13-14 and are reportedly open to just about anything in terms of trades. They also have to deal with the Ty Lawson situation, as well as Dwight Howard potentially eyeing an opt-out on his contract and free agency. With the Rockets having interest, this trade could be the most likely to happen, though, as previously noted, it can’t happen until January 15 at the earliest.

Markieff Morris for Spencer Hawes (Charlotte Hornets)

Hawes is a 7’1 stretch-four who is shooting 37.5 percent from deep in limited attempts. Charlotte would do this deal because Morris is a better overall player than Hawes and the Hornets may believe that a change of scenery will get Morris back on track. The motivation for Phoenix would be the proverbial “addition by subtraction,” as well as adding a big who can shoot for a relatively small annual salary. While Hawes’ production has tailed off in recent seasons, paying him roughly $5.6 million for the next few seasons may seem more reasonable than paying someone like Anderson nearly max-level money in free agency (were they to re-sign him).

Markieff Morris for Jonas Jerebko and R.J. Hunter (Boston Celtics)

This trade doesn’t bring much in terms of on-court production. Jerebko is only playing 12.5 minutes and averaging three points a game. Jerebko probably wouldn’t even crack the Suns’ current rotation, but he could play spot minutes and is only under contract through next season for $5 million. More than anything, Jerebko’s contract makes the money work so that the Suns can snag rookie R.J. Hunter.

Hunter is averaging fewer points and minutes than Jerebko and is coming off a hip injury, but his value lies in his long-term potential. Hunter is known as a shooter and if any team likes to invest in shooting, it’s Phoenix. Boston may not want to give up Hunter, but the opportunity to bring in a talent like Morris may be too good for Danny Ainge to pass up (especially considering how many other assets the Celtics currently have).

*****

Overall, Markieff Morris’ off-court issues, dip in production and pending court case has caused his value to drop drastically. A deal seems likely to happen in the next few months, just don’t expect him to return a big haul for the Suns. It will probably be cents on the dollar and mostly just a way to get Morris off the Suns’ roster, which will be an unfortunate end to what looked to be a promising relationship in Phoenix.

Based in Arizona, Eric Saar is an analyst for Basketball Insiders. He has covered the league for several years. He loves to converse about the NBA on Twitter, so follow him at @Eric_Saar. Eric graduated with honors from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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