PHOENIX – True to his word, Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris arrived at Talking Stick Resort Arena for media day on Monday, reporting as required ahead of training camp.
The Suns will once again spend a week in Flagstaff to train for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
Morris wore his home white No. 11 uniform as he was escorted by a team representative around the practice court to have his picture taken, sign merchandise and speak to the local media; the latter of which Morris had not done since his August comments—and subsequent social media outbursts—seeking a trade sparked anger and distrust from those that had supported him ever since the Suns made him a first-round draft pick in 2011.
“I want to be here,” he said, sporting a James Harden-esque beard from an extended offseason.
Morris, 26, did not want to discuss what happened over the summer or go into detail about his meeting with the front office, which only recently occurred.
Morris had kept largely to himself since the Suns traded his brother, Marcus, to Detroit.
“He loves his brother. Enough said. You’d be mad, too,” guard Eric Bledsoe said. “I respect him 100-percent.”
When in town Morris chose to work out elsewhere—often at Grand Canyon University—rather than the arena, thus forgoing informal workouts with many of his teammates.
Much of the roster had returned for full-court scrimmages in late August.
“I’m glad to be back with my teammates and glad to be back with the team,” Morris said.
If any of those teammates held any ill will towards Morris, no one was saying.
“Keef is a terrific guy. I guess people got misled by that,” Bledsoe said. “As a teammate—I’ve played with him for two years, going on three now—he’s a team-guy. He’s like my brother. I can go to Keef and pretty much say anything to him and he’s not going to take offense to it. He’s still going to play his game. To me, he’s one of the best power forwards in this league. On some nights he even held the team down himself. Sometimes you need guys like that. He’s just a wonderful person to me.”
Added newcomer, center Tyson Chandler, “I’ve always thought he was a great player. I think all of this stuff will be behind him. You know this isn’t the first time that a player has had miscommunications with management or anything like that, and it’s not going to be the last time it happens; and in our league it seems to always work itself out and I feel like this won’t be any different. It will definitely work its way out.”
Morris, entering the first year of a four-year, $32 million contract, is coming off a season in which he averaged personal bests in points (15.3), rebounds (6.2), assists (2.3) and steals (1.2) while starting all 82 games.
The Suns are counting on him and Chandler anchoring the frontcourt.
“I’ve gotten better every year I’ve been in the league, and I’m going to continue to get better with or without my brother,” Morris said, adding his excitement over the addition of Chandler. “The ultimate goal is to make the playoffs. It’s not about me; it’s about my teammates and the organization. We’re just looking forward to a great year and hopefully make the playoffs this year.”