PHOENIX — Six months later, Markieff Morris’ wish was finally granted.
With only minutes remaining before the 1 p.m. NBA trade deadline, the Phoenix Suns shipped their starting power forward to Washington, ending his five-year stay in the Valley that in recent months had become tumultuous, both on and off the court.
“Just ready to move on,” Morris said as he addressed reporters riding a hoverboard out of the locker room to his car. “My time here was great and I thank the organization for giving me a chance to play here and draft me. I’m just ready for this new environment in Washington.”
News of the trade broke while the Suns were still practicing, though according to interim head coach Earl Watson they were just about to wrap up.
Morris was summoned off the court, but not before exchanging hugs with each one of his teammates.
“We were really close,” guard Archie Goodwin said. “For me to have to see him leave so fast, it’s one of those things to where like I really wasn’t ready for it. I know he’s going to do great things in D.C.”
Added Watson, “We wish him the best of luck. I think the Wizards are going to have an amazing opportunity to play inside and out with him. He’s a good get for them.”
In exchange for Morris the Suns, who host the Wizards on April 1, received forwards DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries plus a future first-round pick. The pick is top-9 protected in 2016.
Blair has a $2 million team option for next season while Humphries is due to make $4.6 million in 2016-17, though his deal is not guaranteed.
Morris, 26, had demanded a trade back in August — while taking shots at the organization — after his brother, Marcus, was dealt to Detroit. He changed his tune, however, when he reported to training camp and maintained that desire to remain with the Suns throughout the season, no matter how many times he was asked.
On the court, Morris’ production dropped and he fell in and out of the rotation under then-head coach Jeff Hornacek, whom he threw a towel at Dec. 23 against Denver, earning a team-issued two-game suspension.
Given a second chance when Watson took over, Morris flourished, averaging 20.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 44.8 percent from the field over five games.
But then came the in-game bench altercation between him and Goodwin against Golden State last week that seemed to erase any remaining goodwill, especially among the fan base.
“It’s not about that, man,” Morris answered when asked if he had anything to say to the fans. “I thank them for having me. I had a great five years here. That’s all I can really say, I just thank them.”
Asked later if he was relieved to be traded, Morris responded, “It is what it is. It’s a part of the league and it happens.”
A change of scenery, however, may be just what Morris needs, according to Goodwin.
“I know that he has some feelings towards people here,” he said, “so for me to see him get out of a situation where he can clear his mind and go into it with a free conscience, I know he’s going to play really good.”
Morris, whom the Suns selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is joining a Wizards team that despite a 23-28 record is only three games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m just excited,” he said.
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