Markieff Morris

Eric Bledsoe: Suns not content just sneaking into the playoffs


The Suns have been historically unfortunate to play the in the Western Conference, repeatedly posting good records and still missing the playoffs.

That frustration has been particularly felt the last two years.

Phoenix won 48 games – 10 more than the Hawks, who made the Eastern Conference playoffs – and missed the 2014 postseason. Last season, the Suns were 38-33 before seemingly accepting they would miss the playoffs in the loaded West. They slumped to a 39-43 finish – which was still better than the eighth-seeded Nets in the East.

So, merely reaching the playoffs this season would seem like a victory for Phoenix.

Or not.

Suns guard Bledsoe, via ABC 15 Arizona:

We’re definitely trying to make a run at a playoff spot. We’re not trying to get the last spot, either. We’re trying to get a high spot.

I appreciate Bledsoe’s big goals, but it will be hard for Phoenix to top the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Rockets and Thunder. Besting the Grizzlies and Pelicans will be no easy task, either.

Just making the playoffs would make the Suns’ season successful in my eyes.

More immediately, Phoenix must figure out what to do with Markieff Morris, who keeps insisting he’s not long for the Suns even though they reportedly don’t plan to trade him. He’s important on the court as their starting power forward, but he could also prove disruptive if brought to training camp. It’d be hard to make the playoffs without him, but maybe even harder with him.

Phoenix must find a way to make Bledsoe’s optimism, not Morris’ unhappiness, spread throughout the rest of the team.

Markieff Morris: “My future will not be in Phoenix”


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: Suns have no intention to trade unhappy Markieff Morris


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.

Report: Suns sign former Harvard forward Kyle Casey

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Allowed 15 players on their regular-season roster and having just 13 with guaranteed salaries, the Suns aren’t stopping at Terrico White.

Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:

The Suns have training-camp agreements with shooting guard Terrico White and small forward Kyle Casey

Casey built momentum for the 2013 NBA draft entering his senior year at Harvard. But he and teammate Brandyn Curry became the faces of a cheating scandal that involved 125 students. Casey withdrew from school to avoid a suspension wiping out his final season of eligibility. He spent part of his year away working for a non-profit and then returned to the team for 2013-14. But he had a down season and went undrafted. He played overseas last season.

A 6-foot-8 forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Casey has potential as a defender. Maybe his off-court issues just causes him to fall through the cracks.

He and White will have a chance to earn the two vacant roster spots.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Suns sign more players for training camp, though. Plus, a Markieff Morris trade could change Phoenix’s roster breakdown.

Both Casey and White are eligible to be waived and have their D-League rights assigned to the Suns’ affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam. It’d hardly be surprising if that’s the outcome.

For now, though, Casey and White are the 14th and 15th players on a team that can keep 15 players into the regular season.

Report: Suns sign Terrico White

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Markieff Morris’ dissatisfaction looms over the Suns’ entire offseason. They must trade him or find a way to keep him from lowering the team’s morale, and of course, dealing him requires finding someone to take him (ideally for value).

But the Suns aren’t letting that troubling situation overwhelm them.

They’re also filling out their roster.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Guard Terrico White has reached agreement on a free-agent contract with the Phoenix Suns, league sources told RealGM.

White’s agent, Daniel Hazan of Hazan Sports Management, confirmed the deal via text message Thursday.

The Pistons drafted White No. 36 out of Mississippi in 2010, though he never played for them after suffering a preseason injury. White then fizzled out of the NBA and has played in the D-League and overseas since.

I’d be surprised if White got much of a guarantee, if any, but he still has a chance to stick in Phoenix. The Suns have just 13 players under contract, though all 13 have guaranteed salaries. That leaves two vacant roster spots below the regular-season limit.

The 6-foot-5 White entered the NBA as an explosive leaper with a promising shooting stroke. If he has become more aggressive and/or developed his playmaking skills, he has a chance to become Phoenix’s primary backup shooting guard. Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin are definitely more valuable, but they’re so young, it’s not completely inconceivable White is more ready to produce right now. That role is particularly important because the Suns’ starting guards, Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, figure to play point guard exclusively while the other sits.

Still, I’d bet on at least one of Booker or Goodwin – and maybe even both – outplaying White already. If that’s the case, it’s much harder to find a reason for Phoenix to keep the 25-year-old White.

But there’s a regular-season roster spot available for White now. Depending how everything shakes out with Morris, maybe that will remain the case.