Vacationing with his twin brother and teammate Markieff Morris last week, Marcus Morris abruptly learned Phoenix had traded him to Detroit.
Caught off guard by the news then, Marcus appeared over the transaction that split up the Suns’ twin tandem when the Pistons introduced their newest player at a Friday afternoon press conference.
“At the same time it’s a business,” said Marcus, joining the third organization of his four-year NBA career. “Forget Phoenix. I’m here in Detroit and I’m ready to get started. I have high expectations of myself and I’m just ready to get to work. You’ll see.”
The Morris twins, of course, starred together at Kansas before leaving school one year early to enter the 2011 NBA Draft. The Suns took Markieff 13th overall, and Marcus went next in the first round, to Houston.
During his first appearance as a member of the Pistons, Marcus admitted he never settled in with the Rockets, because he always thought he would end up in Phoenix, with his brother. He was right. The Suns reunited the Morrii in 2013 via a trade. Marcus assumed he and Markieff would remain teammates for the foreseeable future.
Wearing a Detroit Bad Boys cap, Marcus reflected on the business move that sent him away from his brother.
“I mean, things change, situations change,” he said. “I’m a basketball player, I’m a man, so nobody’s gonna feel sorry for me — me going different places. So I just have to adjust and, you know, do my job.”
Asked during the press conference about playing on a different team than Markieff, Marcus simply responded: “Life goes on.”
Shortly after the Q and A, though, Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press got Marcus to open up more on the matter.
“Everybody knew how bad I wanted to play with my brother. Phoenix knew,” Marcus told the Free Press. “For them to trade me without consent or telling me was like a slap in the face, because of the contract I took from those guys and the money I took from them. I'm happy to be here. I'm a Piston. I'm a Bad Boy. I'm ready to get started.''
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had a lot to do with Marcus feeling better about going to Detroit, where he’ll wear No. 13.
“We said coming into the summer that our biggest priority was to get a starting small forward, and with this deal we think we’ve done that,” Van Gundy said.
In Phoenix this past season, Marcus started in 35 of his 81 appearances, but butted heads with coach Jeff Hornacek and only played 25.2 minutes a game — averaging 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while making 35.8% of his 3-pointers.
Upon welcoming Marcus to Detroit, Van Gundy told the 25-year-old forward the organization had significantly different plans for him.
“We were really, really happy that this (trade) was available,” the Pistons coach said. “We think Marcus is at a point in his career where he’s already established himself as a very good player, but now with an increased opportunity we think he’s got a chance to really blossom into even more than we’ve seen so far.”
Not only does Van Gundy want Marcus to mentor incoming lottery pick Stanley Johnson, of Arizona, but he expects the 6-foot-9 forward to play a large role in the offense, with big man Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson.
“I’ll probably have more opportunities than I had in Phoenix, so I’m definitely looking forward to that part,” Marcus said.
In Detroit, he might be able to catch up with the production of twin brother Markieff, who averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals for the Suns while starting all 82 games in the 2014-15 season.
But it sounds as if the twins aren’t expecting Markieff to stick around in Phoenix much longer, either — which could stem from the brothers’ alleged involvement in an aggravated assault, a charge to which they pleaded not guilty.
“I hope he does well wherever he’s at,” Marcus said, “if it’s Phoenix or wherever.”
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
Twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris might have played their final NBA game as teammates.
Although Phoenix did the former Kansas stars a favor by trading for Marcus in 2013 and signing both of them to extensions prior to the 2014-15 season, with free agency in full swing, the Suns reportedly decided to split the twins up in order to chase the top available player.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who breaks almost every NBA story out there, reported Thursday afternoon Phoenix agreed to move Marcus and two other Suns to Detroit for — of all things — a second-round draft pick in 2020. Obviously, that wasn’t the organization’s end game. Wojnarowski reported Phoenix agreed on the deal to clear cap space as it tries to sign power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Breaking up the Morris brothers likely has nothing to do with Marcus’s caught-on-TV shouting match with Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, but the twins’ alleged involvement in a felony aggravated assault case in Phoenix probably didn’t inspire the franchise to remain invested in the young forwards, who are 25 years old headed into their fifth season in the NBA.
Obviously, this move won’t sit well with the Morris twins (or the Morrii, if you prefer), and we’ll certainly hear more on that front once all the summer movement settles. In the meantime, Markieff expressed his shock via Twitter.
If he isn’t happy with Phoenix’s management, he may not have to worry about any awkward exchanges in the near future. Wojnarowski also reported the Suns could be working on another trade involving their leftover Morris.
So try to keep up with the mayhem that is free agency season, and remain on the lookout for more Woj-bombs. Markieff could be moved to Dallas in the time it takes to type 140 characters.
Markieff, the ideal stretch-4 for the NBA, has experienced more success in the league than Marcus to date. But Marcus, who played both small forward and power forward with the Suns, has played in all but one game over the past two seasons, started 35 this past year and averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 25.2 minutes in what proved to be his final campaign with the Suns.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Pistons have Marcus, Danny Granger, lottery pick Stanley Johnson, Quincy Miller, Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver as their forwards. So starting at the 3 or 4 spot wouldn’t be out of the question for Marcus in Detroit. Or he could become a valuable sixth man.
No doubt Marcus hates this business move right now, but it could actually benefit his career down the road if he makes the most of it. He’ll just have to find a new roommate.
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
Anyone with a passing interesting KU basketball has heard the story of the Morris twins.
There's Marcus and Markieff's unique bond on and off the court. The fact that they play for the same NBA team, the Phoenix Suns. The shared house, bank account and tattoos. And, of course, F.O.E.
Luckily, with the Morrii, there's always more. This week, SBNation.com posted a fresh, 10-minute look at the twins. The video includes interviews with the pair, their mother and their coaches — including "mean stepfather" Bill Self.
It's a fun watch, but Self's quotes about pushing the twins' buttons pushes it over the top:
Considering how much of a grind the 82-game regular season has to be for NBA players, you can’t blame the guys for enjoying the preseason goof-off spectacle that is NBA media days.
Players surely take their interview responsibilities seriously enough, but when it comes time to mean-mug or bring some absurdity to photo and video shoots, they happily oblige.
Believe it or not, it’s actually training camp time in The Association, so the past few days have been light-heartedly busy for most of the former Kansas University players lucky enough to call the NBA home.
Some get to enjoy it a little more than others, as you can see in our social media roundup from the festivities.
Cole Aldrich, New York Knicks
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Drew Gooden and Paul Pierce, Washington Wizards
Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls
Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder
Xavier Henry, Los Angeles Lakers
Marcus and Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
Thomas Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers
Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Media day / throw-down night
Minnesota had an open practice for Timberwolves fans to watch following its media day, nicknaming the fun: Dunks After Dark.
Wiggins delivered a few throw-downs to help it live up to its name.
In a perfect NBA world, the powers that be would allow the top 16 teams in the league to duke it out in the playoffs to decide the championship.
Unfortunately for the fans, that postseason utopia doesn't exist. If it did, Phoenix, which went 48-34 in the 2013-14 regular season, would have easily made the playoffs. Instead, the Suns, who play in the deeper Western Conference, have to watch the action on TV with the rest of us.
When the season ended prematurely for Phoenix, Matt Petersen of Suns.com began offering a series of season reviews on each of the franchise's players.
A bench star in the Suns' entertaining campaign, Markieff Morris emerged as a legit NBA player in his third year — 13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 48.6% FGs, 31.5% 3s in 26.6 minutes.
As far as the 24-year-old power forward's highlight of the year, according to the Suns' site, that came in November, against the back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat. Morris turned Chris "Birdman" Andersen into a YouTube victim after making on-ball defender Rashard Lewis look even worse.
First-year Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said Morris comes off the bench and makes the offense flow smoothly.
“We need Markieff’s energy, scoring in the post on guys. It keeps us from shooting nothing but jump shots. The other guys can post up some, but consistently, we can go to him five, six, seven times and then they have to start figuring out what to do with him. He kicks it out and we get good stuff. He allows us to play that inside-out game that not a lot of our other guys give us.”
According to the Bright Side of the Sun blog, Morris, who led the league with 11 double-doubles off the bench, earned an A on his season report card.
Marcus an important Suns backup, too
Markieff wasn't the only Morris twin helping Phoenix reverse its fortunes this season. Marcus played nearly just as big a role, also off the Suns' bench.
In his first full season playing alongside Markieff in the NBA (Marcus began his career in Houston), he averaged 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 22.0 minutes. Marcus shot 44.2% from the floor and 38.1% from 3-point land.
Suns.com's Petersen deemed the following dunk — on San Antonio's Aron Baynes — the play of the year for Marcus.
But Marcus proved just as deadly spotting up behind the 3-point line. He hit 99 from deep (a career high for the third-year forward) on 260 tries. Hornacek said Marcus needed that weapon in his repertoire.
“He had that [midrange ability] in college. He’s developed the outside game, the deep three, since he’s been in the pros. That’s kind of his strength.”
Aldrich spent most of season at end of bench
Drafted in 2010, Cole Aldrich has yet to produce a career-changing season to put him on the NBA map.
Since his arrival in the league, the 6-11 center never has averaged more than 11.7 minutes with a team in a season (and that came in 15 games for Sacramento after a mid-season trade), nor more than 3.3 points (also in 15-game Sactown stint).
In 2013-14, with New York, Aldrich averaged 7.2 minutes, 2.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 46 games.
Charlie Widdoes took a different kind of look at Aldrich's fourth year for the Knicks' website. Projected over 36 minutes, Aldrich would have averaged a double-double, with 10 points and 14.1 rebounds.
And, as Widdoes points out, Aldrich set a career high with 16 rebounds and scored 13 points in the Knicks' season finale, when he played 40 minutes.
"The biggest thing is staying ready. You never know when your name's going to be called."
He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Aldrich's former coach in NYC, Mike Woodson, who was fired after the season, praised the still young big man for his work.
"He's earned the right to be on somebody's ball club."
• Tuesday was a historic day in the NBA, with commissioner Adam Silver issuing a lifetime ban to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after he made racist comments in a taped conversation.
Miami guard Mario Chalmers, like a number of players around the league, complimented the new commish's handling of the situation via Twitter.
• Elsewhere, it looks like Ben McLemore is fully embracing the joys of the offseason.
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
— Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.
Through the first 31 games of his NBA career, Sacramento’s Ben McLemore has made a name for himself with highlight-reel dunks.
But coming out of Kansas, most of the attention was on McLemore’s smooth jump shot. McLemore wowed with his textbook release and clutch shots, and during his one-and-done year, he shot 42 percent (73 of 174) from beyond the arc.
As the NBA draft approached, scouts and journalists never missed an opportunity to compare McLemore to the league’s all-time leader in three-pointers, Ray Allen. McLemore embraced the narrative, too. From the Orlando Sentinel, days before the draft:
"I definitely can compare myself to Ray Allen, especially with the shooting ability," McLemore said. "I don't know about the athleticism anymore. But I definitely can say I compare myself with him a lot as far as getting myself open, coming off screens and little things like that."
So far, McLemore hasn’t come close to matching the pre-draft expectations and is shooting just 34 percent (41 of 120) from three. But the lofty comparisons to Allen persist, and Kings blog CowbellKingdom.com recently went to the future Hall of Famer for the definitive answer on McLemore:
He’s a jump shooter, first and foremost. He looks like, I haven’t seen him a lot, but every shot he takes, it seems like he duplicates the first one to the next one to the one after that. He stays consistent in how he puts the ball in the air. He has great athleticism, and he uses it on his jump shot and most players now in the NBA don’t do that.
Allen — who probably resisted the urge to simply say “He Got Game” — also told CowbellKingdom that he’s impressed by 20-year-old McLemore’s fundamentals:
We’re creatures of habit. When you play sports a certain way, it’s hard to change who you are. So, he has great athleticism, (but) you can tell whoever taught him young kept him in great form with how he shoots the ball. It really has nothing to do with age because if you’re taught the fundamentals of the game when you’re 15, you’ll shoot the ball the right way – the way you’re supposed to be (shooting). It’s just we’re so surprised (when) we see players come to the NBA, professional players that don’t have the skill-set or the fundamentals that we know we should be seeing.
Nice of you to say, Ray. But as NBATV’s Trey Kerby pointed out, McLemore still has a ways to go:
Now, to live up to these kind words, all Ben McLemore has to do is play another 16 seasons, raise his three-point accuracy five percentage points while doing so, break all kinds of records, credibly appear in a major motion picture, shave his head right when it becomes time to shave his head, always look like he’s snarling even though he’s generally happy, and win two titles while also making one of the most clutch three-pointers in league history to save a championship season. Simple stuff.
For the full quotes from Allen on McLemore, head over to CowbellKingdom.com.
Happy birthday, Hinrich
Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich turned 33 years old on Thursday. To mark the occasion, Bulls blog PippenAintEasy.com compiled some of Hinrich’s best moments in red, white and black, including this dunk during his rookie season in 2004:
The ProHoopsHistory Twitter account also looked back at Hinrich’s Bulls career on Thursday:
Kirk Hinrich is 4th in total assists in 3rd in APG in the history of the Chicago Bulls. A legend in his own time
Phoenix broadcaster Tom Chambers recently sat down with Suns forwards Markieff and Marcus Morris. In the two-part interview, the twins talk quite a bit about family and their lifelong dream of playing together:
Denver’s Darrell Arthur returned reinvigorated from a two-game injury absence, Monday against Miami:
Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce wasn’t happy with his team’s effort Tuesday against San Antonio (more on that in a minute), so he took his frustration out on the rim:
And Portland’s Thomas Robinson, who hadn’t played in five games, showed no rust on this slo-mo slam before a return in Thursday’s game:
Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce on the Nets’ struggles, via ESPN.com:
It’s embarrassing. I don’t know if I’ve probably been a part of this many blowouts in one season already. But at some point, we’ve gotta have our pride. It has to come from each individual and say we’ve had enough of this. It’s extremely embarrassing.
Miami’s Mario Chalmers, likely flashing back to the 2008 NCAA tournament after getting torched by Golden State’s Stephen Curry on Thursday:
"You can't defend that. Once a player gets hot like that, you can't stop anybody like that."
On Portland's Thomas Robinson during Thursday's game against Charlotte, via Blazers media tweets:
I believe @Trobinson0 is yelling "lunch meat" every time Aldridge touches the ball against Josh McRoberts.
T Robinson on why he said "lunch meat" when LMA gets the ball. "Whatchu do with lunch meat? Eat it. He gets the ball and he eats all day."
Phoenix’s Marcus Morris on the Suns’ bench, via AZcentral.com:
“Once somebody cracks it open, you’ve got some wild stuff coming behind,” Marcus Morris said. “ … That’s what Coach (Jeff Hornacek) preaches. The more we get up, the more our percentages go higher.”
On the improvement of Marcus and Markieff Morris, from Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek, via CBS Sports’ Matt Moore:
"They were horrible defensively," Hornacek says. "Whether that was the system, or what. But we're putting a lot of responsibility on them to help out and to rotate and these guys are following it, and I think that's what's taking them to the next level."
On Sacramento’s Ben McLemore, via the Sacramento Bee:
“One thing I love about Ben is he is a great kid, his heart’s in the right place, he wants to do well,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “He wants to watch film, learn and get better, he takes it very seriously and I know he’s going to get there and experience is the best teacher. What he went through (Sunday), even though it was a hard lesson for him and us, that’s going to help him (Tuesday) night and hopefully throughout the season.”
Remember to check KUsports.com every night for the latest line scores from the ‘Hawks in the NBA.