Markieff Morris finally gets his wish: a trade out of Phoenix
Just as everyone figured, the NBA’s trade deadline did not pass Thursday afternoon without Phoenix shipping away disgruntled forward Markieff Morris.
The former Kansas star, who wore out his welcome with the Suns after the organization traded away his twin brother Marcus, got dealt East, to Washington, according to a report from Yahoo.
A 6-foot-10 forward drafted by Phoenix in 2011, Morris cost the Wizards a protected first-round pick and veteran backup forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.
As detailed in the Yahoo report from Shams Charania, Morris has wanted out of Phoenix all season, and the Suns finally gave up on the talented 26-year-old stretch forward after the low lights of his season included throwing a towel at then-coach Jeff Hornacek and fighting with teammate Archie Goodwin during a timeout.
Azcentral.com’s Paul Coro was on the scene Thursday afternoon when Morris left the Suns’ facility, reporting the new Wizard was “ready to move on.”
The Suns were probably like: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, or trip off your hoverboard thing in the parking lot.”
Morris lands in Washington at least with a chance to contribute to a playoff team, which wasn’t going to happen in Phoenix (14-40). Although the Wizards (23-28) haven’t lived up to expectations this season, D.C. is just 3 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 31 games to play. Plus, the East is so jumbled, with the exception of clear-cut favorite Cleveland, that Washington, at 10th, is only 7 games back of third.
While Morris’ season numbers for 2015-16 — 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 39.7% shooting — don’t jump off the screen at you, much of that has to do with his volatile relationship with Hornacek. After the Suns got rid of their head coach, Morris received more of an opportunity in his final games with Phoenix. In February, Morris played 34.8 minutes a game, compared to 22.8 in January and 18.5 in December.
For interim Suns coach Earl Watson, Morris averaged 20.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals in five losses. He shot 44.8% from the floor and made 4 of his 12 3-pointers while essentially reminding other franchises that they should make a move to get him out of town.
Washington could use that kind of production in its front court, where coach Randy Wittman could easily start Morris at power forward or use him as a sixth man.
The Wizards, powered by All-Star point guard John Wall, should improve offensively almost immediately with Morris’ perimeter abilities complimenting starting center Marcin Gortat. Even better for Washington, it’s easy to see Wall and Morris becoming perfect partners in pick-and-pops and pick-and-rolls.
With Morris’ trade, Washington now turns into a more appealing team to watch for KU fans who follow the NBA. Morris joins veteran Drew Gooden and rookie Kelly Oubre Jr. as Jayhawks on the roster — though Wittman will surely ask much more of his new forward than those two.
The 34-year-old Gooden doesn’t play that much anymore: 12.4 minutes this season, with 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds, deep off Washington’s bench.
The 20-year-old Oubre’s minutes (4.4 a game in February) went down headed into the All-Star break, too. On the year, he is getting just 11.9 minutes a game, contributing 3.8 points and 2.2 boards.
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