Initial reaction of the Phoenix Suns trading Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards was equivalent to Frodo Baggins destroying the One Ring, as one fan eloquently described on Twitter.
For Suns interim head coach Earl Watson, it was business as usual.
“My reaction was to stay classy and professional,” Watson told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday morning. “I brought the team together, announced the trade, I got that from Coach Brown, you give guys the chance to say their good-byes as a teammate for the rest of the season. You become classy and give your thoughts on everything moving forward, and you let him say good-bye to his teammates. And then we immediately move forward as a team, we can’t linger in those emotions. We understand what we have to build, we understand the process we’re in and we embrace that process.”
“I think it was not a secret that both sides wanted to execute this trade,” Watson said. “For us, it was a media closure, for him also. So that closure is healing in a lot of ways. Sports analysts are going to say ‘oh it’s another big hit, 20 points from Eric Bledsoe, 20 points from Brandon Knight, Markieff was averaging 20 points, T.J. Warren was averaging 15 points, what are you going to do?’ We are going to continue, and our strategy is going to stay the same, we want to build character.”
Bledsoe (torn left meniscus) and Warren (fractured right foot) have both been ruled out for the rest of the season. Knight has missed the past 11 games due to a groin injury.
The emergence of rookie Devin Booker and the development of Archie Goodwin might be the focal point for the team in the second half of the season.
“Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight were having magnificent seasons,” Watson said. “We know Eric is out for the season, which is tough, but Brandon Knight is coming back, Ronnie Price is coming back. Devin Booker is young, we have to teach him how to be more efficient with his physical body as he matures moving forward. Archie Goodwin, who is the hybrid of our team, I think he is a diamond in the rough in this entire process.”
Booker is averaging 10.6 points per game and shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc, currently leading all rookies in that category. Goodwin is averaging a career-high 9.2 points per game, and is developing a clutch gene for the team.
Watson reiterates his vision for the team, insists it is crucial to move forward.
“We have a process and a mission to accomplish,” Watson explained. “We can’t linger in the emotions of moves and trades, it’s the nature of the business. I want our guys to be accountable and we want to build character.”
Building character might be a good idea with the the type of light the franchise has been thrown into lately, and starting with the basics might be best for this team.
“We want to build a partnership with the community. We want to build a family, and it’s a partnership we have to build. We want to play selfless and with passion and play Phoenix Suns basketball. We are not creating tradition, we have to uplift the tradition and try to take it a step further as our building process moves forward.”
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