The Markieff Morris saga finally ended Thursday afternoon when the Phoenix Suns traded the forward to the Washington Wizards.
“At this time for our organization, for our fans and the community, it was time for a fresh start,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday morning. “We’re really excited to get a pick that has the potential to be in the late lottery and mid-first round in this year’s draft.”
Phoenix received veterans Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and a top-nine protected first-round pick from the Wizards for Morris.
Morris showed distaste toward the franchise when the Suns traded his twin brother Marcus to the Detroit Pistons in order to create cap space for a potential LaMarcus Aldridge signing.
“We take responsibility for some of the things that have gone on or gone wrong,” McDonough said. “We put Markieff in a difficult situation by trading his brother, but at the same time we don’t feel he handled it very well.
“I think that’s probably an understatement.”
The forward clashed with former head coach Jeff Hornacek, and displayed many questionable public showings that included throwing a towel at Hornacek, and, more recently, a shouting match with Archie Goodwin.
“I think Markieff’s public actions in what you guys saw on the bench, in the media, was worse than how he was day-to-day in the locker room,” McDonough said. “Day-to-day in the locker room he wasn’t disruptive, he generally practiced pretty hard, he did his work with our training staff and in the weight room, all that was fine. But, obviously when you’re trying to build something and trying to grow together, you don’t want any distractions.”
Morris seemed to turn a page when Earl Watson was promoted to interim head coach, and McDonough thinks that may have been a big factor in completing a trade.
“He did a tremendous job with Markieff. In the five games he coached Markieff Morris, I think you saw the surge in his productivity, and if we’re being honest, I think that helped get the deal done.”
Morris averaged 20.6 points per game since Watson took over as head coach.
McDonough said the team had to jump some obstacles in trying to get a Morris trade done.
“I think there were several mitigating factors that made it very difficult,” McDonough said. “Anytime a player has issues off the court combined with poor play, it can make it a challenge. Coming into the day yesterday, we had some interest, but we had no firm offers. We were debating offers that returned a player or players, versus ones that returned a draft pick.
“At the end of the day, we got a little of both. We got a pick that I think we’ll be happy with come draft night in June, where it might end up.”
Sitting at 14-40, Phoenix might be taking a more advanced look at the upcoming draft than most teams. McDonough and the Suns plan to take the Morris trade in stride, and hope it will turn the franchise around.
“More than anything else, I think it’s a fresh start, a breath of fresh air for the organization. I think some of our younger guys now will be more empowered to have more of a voice, and step up and have more of a leadership role.”