PHOENIX — A year ago Thursday, the Phoenix Suns and point guard Eric Bledsoe put pen to paper on a new five-year, $70 million contract extension, ending a summer-long stalemate that at times turned ugly, at times personal.
Fast forward to 2015 and the Suns once again find themselves at odds with a key starter just days before the opening of training camp.
Power forward Markieff Morris wants out.
The Suns want Morris to stay.
Their plan is to pair the four-year veteran alongside center Tyson Chandler to form a formidable frontcourt to complement the Bledsoe-Brandon Knight backcourt.
And their plan is not about to change even though Morris wants a change of scenery.
“The summer hasn’t gone how we hoped it would in regards to him. I’m certain it hasn’t gone how he wanted it to go in terms of the situation with trading Marcus to Detroit, but it is what it is,” GM Ryan McDonough said Thursday at Loma Linda School, where the Suns took part in a ‘Day of Play’ through Playworks. “We’ll see him on Monday, if not sooner. We fully expect him to come to camp and be a full-participant and be the productive, effective player he has been for the past couple of years since Coach (Jeff) Hornacek and I have been in Phoenix.”
In other words, the Suns completely expect Morris to be on the Opening Night roster Oct. 28.
“Correct,” said McDonough in his first comments since Morris went public with his request to be traded.
Morris made his wishes clear back in August when he told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “One thing for sure, I’m not going to be there.”
Morris has also turned to social media, specifically Twitter, to speak out.
There was this tweet on Sept. 3:
“My future will not be in Phoenix…. #thatisall #backtotheground #FOE”.
And then seven days later a retweet of the quote:
“I don’t accept apologies, you did what made you happy at the expense of my emotions and I understand but I won’t respect it.”
His comments earned him a $10,000 fine from the NBA for a public statement detrimental to the league.
“Obviously, we prefer that he didn’t make those comments, but what’s done is done, what’s in the past is in the past,” McDonough said. “We’re looking forward to moving on and sitting down with him next week and getting ready for training camp and preseason.”
McDonough added he had not yet spoken to Morris.
“Members of our staff have,” he said. “Our coaching staff has been in touch with Markieff. They’ve worked with him on the court, said he looks good. He’s in good shape. He’s never really out-of-shape, that’s one of the things that he does pretty consistently well. He trains year-round. He works hard.”
Morris has been the lone holdout among Suns players not to participate in informal workouts, including full-court scrimmages, at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Instead, he’s chosen to get his work in at Grand Canyon University.
“We can’t require any players to report until Monday,” McDonough said, “but on August 24th, over a month before media day and training camp start, we had more than 10 roster players with guaranteed contracts in camp and we think that’s a great sign for the upcoming season.”
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