If you thought there was a chance that Markieff Morris’ animosity towards the Suns would dissipate by training camp, think again. Weeks after going on the record to demand a trade, he reiterated his stance on his own Twitter account on Thursday evening:
There’s no ambiguity there at all. Unfortunately for Markieff, it’s not up to him. And if he really wants out of Phoenix, he’s doing as much as he can to destroy his chances of going to a favorable situation.
Morris has been unhappy since the Suns traded his twin brother Marcus to Detroit in July, claiming that they gave Phoenix a discount on their extensions (which totaled $52 million over four years between them) in the hopes that they’d be able to keep playing together. Does he have a right to be disappointed on a personal level at the way it shook out? Sure. But the Suns were under no obligation to keep the brothers together. GM Ryan McDonough made a trade that he thought gave the Suns a chance to get better — in other words, he was doing his job. This is a rough business, and those that survive it learn not to take trades personally.
Where this situation goes from here will be interesting, and it could get ugly. Morris has painted himself into a corner with his public comments about wanting to be traded. The Suns have no incentive to trade him just because he’s unhappy — he’s their starting power forward and he’s on a great contract, making just $8 million per year. His personal issues with management aside, they need him. They don’t have an in-house replacement who’s ready to step in. If they’re going to move him, they need to get equal value, and good luck getting any team to give up a worthwhile asset for someone who has (deservedly) developed a reputation around the league as a malcontent, to say nothing of the impending felony assault charges he and his brother both face.
If the Suns don’t trade him by training camp, he has to show up and do his job, whether he’s happy about it or not. He could decide to blow off camp, but that would be counterproductive: he could be suspended or fined, which would not only cost him money but further torpedo his trade value, which is already basically nonexistent. His best option, if he wants out, is to be patient, show up to camp, don’t complain, play well, and hope that by the trade deadline he’s rehabilitated his value to the point where the Suns might get an offer they would actually take. In being so public about his desire to be traded and his unwillingness to play in Phoenix, he’s given them all the leverage and damaged his reputation, maybe irreparably.
Report: CJ McCollum has been playing through fractured lower back
But he had a rough night overall, shooting 2-of-14 overall. His shooting numbers are down across the board through this restart, not terrible but down from the level the world has seen from one of the games most feared scorers.
Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to the game that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman’s terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.
Re: CJ McCollum: Transverse process fractures of the spine aren’t unheard of in professional sports. Cam Newton & Tony Romo endured the injury while NBA players, including Hedo Turkoglu & Mike Conley, have sustained the injury in recent season.
Portland has had success despite a slowed McCollum, in part because Gary Trent Jr. has stepped up and taken on a larger role on both ends of the court (including drawing a charge on Kristaps Porzingis that sealed the Blazers win over the Mavericks).
That win put Portland in as the eighth seed in the West, a spot they can hold with a win against Brooklyn on Thursday. That would put them in a play-in series — where if they won the reward would be LeBron James and the Lakers. To reach that point and threaten Los Angeles, Portland is going to need a lot out of McCollum. The question is how much does he have to give with this injury?
Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected after headbutting Moe Wagner
Wagner may have sold that a little, but that is unquestionably a headbutt. Antetokounmpo deserved the Flagrant II and ejection that came with it.
The one-game suspension that is coming will not cost the Bucks anything, they have the No. 1 seed in the East locked up. However, that one game is aginst the Grizzlies and if Memphis wins it gets the nine seed in the West at worst (eighth of Portland were to lose Thursday).
Wagner has a gift for getting under an opponent’s skin. Antetokounmpo has to do better keeping his emotions in check, because come the playoffs they will get tested like never before.
The Portland Trail Blazers control their own postseason destiny — and they can thank Damian Lillard for that.
Lillard got all the respect he wanted when he tied his career-high of 61 points Tuesday, and the Portland Trail Blazers needed every one of them to beat the Dallas Mavericks 134-131.
Lillard was 9-of-17 from three, plus got to the line 18 times and hit every free throw.
Portland’s win combined with Memphis’ loss to Boston puts the Trail Blazers into the eighth seed in the West — win on Thursday against Brooklyn and Portland is the eighth seed. That is a massive advantage heading into the two-game play-in series, the eighth seed just needs to win one of those two games to advance to the playoffs (and a first-round date with LeBron James). The ninth-seeded team needs to sweep the two games to advance.
Memphis can maintain the nine seed with a win Thursday. Should the Grizzlies lose again (to the Bucks, who have nothing to play for) it opens the door for the Suns or the Spurs to get the nine seed. Or maybe higher.
Portland is not safe just because of the win Tuesday: If it loses to Brooklyn on Thursday and two of Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio win, the Trail Blazers will be watching the first round of the playoffs on television like the rest of us. The race in the West is that tight.
It’s hard to imagine Portland losing a critical game, however, with the way Lillard is playing. He said he wants some respect on his f ****** name – and he’s more than earned it.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) —Devin Bookerscored 35 points and the Phoenix Suns protected their playoff hopes by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 130-117 on Tuesday to remain undefeated in the NBA restart.
Booker became the Suns’ career leader with his 91st 30-point game, breaking a tie with Walter Davis.