In the summer of 2014, Markieff Morris took what he saw as a little less than market value — he has four years, $32 million left on his deal — to make sure his twin brother Marcus got paid and they could play together in Phoenix. Markieff then had a season that saw him regress — he was scoring more per game but being less efficient, all the while clashing with the Suns’ coaching staff. Also, he may also now be in some serious legal trouble for an assault.
In the summer of 2015, trying to clear out some cap space in case LaMarcus Aldridge chose them, the Suns traded Marcus to the Pistons. Markieff (the better of the two brothers) is pissed — he said, “I am not going to be there.” As in “trade me.” He’s got preferred trade destinations.
The Suns do not care.
In a story by Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic about 10 Suns expected roster players are already working out at the team’s facilities in Phoenix and playing together, it is noted Morris is not expected.
There is no surprise that Markieff Morris is missing from that list, given his “Keef beef” with the franchise. His trade request fell on deaf ears….
The Suns need and want Morris. They would not stand much of a chance to replace him by trade. They would have no chance to replace him by free agency. They do not have an adequate existing roster option.
Reasonably, hard feelings should subside by the time he must report to Phoenix on Sept. 28. However, he was steaming six weeks after the trade when he went public to the Philadelphia Inquirer this month. Another six weeks might not help but being around his teammate friends again and meeting a respected frontcourt partner such as Chandler should help him recommit, even if Morris returns to being the quieter person he was before Marcus joined Phoenix.
Morris has said he will be professional and do what he has to, but will not go the extra mile for the team. Like, show up early for workouts. The Suns are betting on that softening over time. Morris is expected to be the Suns starting power forward, and if he doesn’t show up to camp the Suns don’t have to pay him.
The problem for the Suns is even if they wanted to trade him right now, they have zero leverage. Everyone in the league knows he wants out, and offers will be lowball. Even if they were considering a trade, they couldn’t say it. But Morris is 25, on a reasonable contract and two seasons ago was mentioned as a potential Sixth Man of the Year — those are not the kind of guys you move.
If the Suns starts to look like a playoff team in the West — they should be in the mix for the seventh and eighth seed slots — we will see if winning cures all ills. If not, the Suns can still be patient. Bottom line, don’t expect a Morris move in the short term.