Suns coach Jeff Hornacek sharply critical of Markieff Morris’ game

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Jeff Hornacek has taken an optimistic approach to the Markieff Morris saga, saying he believes it’ll turn out OK once Morris reports to training camp.

But, in an article by Zach Lowe of Grantland, the Suns coach also comes at Morris from a different direction.

Hornacek on Morris’ defense:

“Some games he brings it, some games he doesn’t,” Hornacek says. “Maybe it’s conditioning. Maybe it’s him saying, ‘If I put the effort in on defense, then I can’t do it on the offensive end.’”

Hornacek on Morris switching defensively:

We’ll use more of that this year,” Hornacek says. “He can do it. If the game’s on the line, I think he’ll be great at it. He focuses on those kinds of plays. The question is whether he can do it in the middle of games, consistently.”

Hornacek on Morris’ 3-point shooting:

“We thought he’d be a little better,” Hornacek says. “If he’s right around 30 percent, that’s probably not conducive to him shooting a lot of 3s.”

Hornacek on Morris drawing fouls:

“He doesn’t draw enough fouls,” Hornacek says.

Hornacek on Morris’ post-ups:

“He doesn’t get the ball deep on the block, and sometimes, there’s no place to cut,” Hornacek says.

These criticisms are valid. Morris, despite the size and mobility to make more of a difference, doesn’t always defend well. His 3-point shooting has regressed. He doesn’t attack the rim enough. He operates with his back to the basket a little farther from the rim than most players – though that’s more a stylistic issue than a reason to rebuke him. (However, if Morris’ natural style interferes with his teammates, he should at least attempt to change it.)

But Morris is a good player locked into a cheap contract. It’s Hornacek’s job to make this work.

On a certain level, I think Hornacek is just being honest because that’s who he is.

Morris was also very blunt about what he thought of the Suns, tough. Maybe, in turn, they’re just being blunt about what they think of him. Giving him a taste of his own medicine – but to teach him a lesson or simply out of frustration?

At this point, it doesn’t matter too much why Hornacek publicly criticized his own player to a level rarely seen. He said it.

The big question: How will an already-unhappy Morris react?