Marcus Morris: I should’ve started over P.J. Tucker with Suns

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Since the Suns traded him to the Pistons, Marcus Morris hasn’t expressed much respect for Phoenix.

He called the deal, which separated him from twin brother ,”a slap in the face.”

Now, he’s more specifically targeting Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and former teammate P.J. Tucker.

Morris, via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

In Phoenix, I thought I should have started at the three. The guy that’s there now (P.J. Tucker) might have been a better defender, but as an all-around three, I thought I was the best we had. And I thought a lot of players thought that, too.

I appreciate Morris’ confidence. It has certainly helped him reach the NBA.

But this crosses a certain line.

What did Tucker do to deserve this criticism? Why must he wonder which of his teammates went behind his back to tell Morris that Morris should start? How do those teammates handle Tucker’s suspicions, stated or unstated?

If Morris doesn’t care about those concerns, that’s fine. It’s no longer his job to help the Suns foster chemistry. But he put some people in an uncomfortable position with these comments.

He’s also wrong.

In a vacuum, Tucker and Morris might be similar in quality, but they differ in kind. Tucker is a better defender, Morris better with the ball. The Suns – who started two point guard between Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Brandon Knight – didn’t need a better ball-handler. Tucker’s ability to do the dirty work was a much better fit with the starting lineup.

The most-used five-man units performed better with Tucker than Morris.

With Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Markieff Morris and Alex Len (offensive rating/defensive rating/net rating):

  • Tucker: 103.9/94.5/+9.4 in 392 minutes
  • Morris: 108.2/100.2/+8.0 in 63 minutes

With Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Markieff Morris and Miles Plumlee (offensive rating/defensive rating/net rating):

  • Tucker: 102.8/97.6/+5.2 in 163 minutes
  • Morris: 107.1/102.9/+4.2 in 237 minutes

Tucker earned his starting spot. I understand why Morris disagrees, and he could use this as motivation to play better this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Morris outplays Tucker this year.

But last season, Hornacek got that right.