Report: Pelicans and Suns exploring Markieff Morris-Ryan Anderson trade

Associated Press
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If the Rockets are interested in trading for Markieff Morris, they’ll have competition.

The Pelicans – with Ryan Anderson‘s $8.5 million salary and expiring contract – are apparently interested.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The New Orleans Pelicans have emerged as a suitor with interest in acquiring disgruntled Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Suns and Pelicans have had preliminary contact about a potential trade, but Morris’ pending felony aggravated assault charges remain a possible obstacle for virtually every team interested in making a deal, sources told Yahoo.

The Pelicans’ willingness to part with forward Ryan Anderson could make conversations worth exploring between the two teams, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Pelicans are willing to consider moving Anderson as a part of a potential deal for Morris, especially if Anderson doesn’t show an interest in signing a new contract with New Orleans, sources said.

Anderson is playing far better than Morris this season, but that’s only one aspect of a trade.

The Pelicans could lose Anderson in unrestricted free agency this summer. Rather than keep the veteran through a season that has gotten off on the wrong foot, New Orleans could build for the future. Not only is Morris younger, he has three years and $24 million remaining on his contract after this season. At minimum, that gives the Pelicans stability. If Morris reverts to the form he showed last season, let alone two years ago, he’d become a fantastic value.

The Suns would rid themselves of a headache and get someone better equipped to help a playoff push this season. Maybe they’d have a better shot at re-signing Anderson, too.

For Phoenix, the positives to such a deal are fairly straightforward.

The Pelicans would face complications.

Obviously, everything in New Orleans involves around Anthony Davis. He and Morris would create a fast and talented power forward-center combination, but how comfortable are the Pelicans having Davis regularly take a pounding at center? And where would this leave Omer Asik? Neither Morris nor Asik has played well enough to demand starters’ minutes, but whichever comes off the bench probably won’t be pleased.

Plus, this would limit New Orleans’ future cap space. If I were the Pelicans, I might prefer selling future free agents on playing with the transcendent Davis to settling for Morris right now.

Morris has mostly said and done the right things since his petulant offseason – except play well. He has accepted Jeff Hornacek pulling him from the starting lineup, a big step toward convincing another team to take a chance on him. Nobody wants to add a troublemaker. But nobody wants a subpar player, either. Potential trade partners are banking on Morris’ talent, not his recent production.

Anderson, on the other hand, is clearly an asset. Plenty of teams, including the Suns, could use him at least as a rental.

For a Morris-Anderson-based swap to work, Phoenix would probably have to sweeten the pot.