GLENDALE, Ariz. — The drama that unfolded between the Morris twins and Phoenix Suns during the offseason has largely been put to bed.
Now, given Marcus Morris’ impending return, those hurt feelings may have begun to stir and might soon be wide awake come Friday, when Markieff and the Suns welcome Marcus and his new team, the Detroit Pistons.
“I think it’ll be fine,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “There will be probably mixed emotions out there but hopefully once they get on the court, you’re just playing basketball; and that’s what we’ve always said about these guys. I’m sure they’ll get together tonight and have dinner and hang out.
“It should be a fun game.”
Both Markieff and Marcus, who is now starting, are their respective teams’ third-leading scorers and second-best rebounders.
They also have each helped lead their teams to three wins; the Suns are 3-2, while the Pistons sit 3-1 after opening the season with three straight victories.
And both may find themselves guarding one another, as they occasionally did during practices when the two shared the court during their two-and-a-half seasons together in Phoenix.
“It might be weird at first, but they played against each other before so I don’t think it’ll be a big deal,” P.J. Tucker said.
Markieff was not available for comment Thursday. He stayed home due to illness, according to Hornacek, and missed the team’s one-hour practice at Luke Air Force Base.
Markieff and Marcus had hoped to remain teammates and had agreed to team-friendly contract extensions a year ago. Those extensions — Markieff four years, $32 million and Marcus four years, $20 million — took effect this season.
But over the summer Marcus was dealt to Detroit, along with Reggie Bullock and Danny Granger, for a future second-round pick, in a move that gained the Suns both the financial wherewithal and roster flexibility to pursue free agent power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
The twins each expressed their displeasure with the trade.
Markieff even demanded his own ticket out of town. However, he showed up at media day, voiced a desire to remain in a Suns uniform and by all accounts has been a model teammate, both on and off the court, ever since.
“I think Keef is — I don’t think he’s as much worried about Mook because I know he knows Mook is a good player and that he’ll be fine anywhere,” Tucker said. “(He’s) really focused on trying to get done what we got to do here; be able to take us to the next level. The trade got off to a good start, so I doubt that’s on his mind.”
While Markieff has been solid in his play, averaging 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 26.0 minutes, Marcus has thrived in his new role in Detroit.
It is still early, but Marcus is one pace to set career highs in points (17.3), rebounds (7.5), assists (1.8) and blocked shots (0.5); all while seeing more minutes (38.3) than at any time in his previous four seasons.
“For (the Pistons), when they’ve got (Andre) Drummond inside that really commands inside, so they needed those outside guys and Marcus has made the shots. That east coast style is a little different in terms of allowing guys to just kind of go one-on-one and back it in. It’s a little slower pace so it fits his game maybe a little bit better,” Hornacek said.
“We always hope that when players go to other teams—sometimes you have better fits on certain teams; and for him, he’s found a spot there. I talked to their GM (Jeff Bower) after the trade, I saw him at a meeting and I said, ‘Marcus will be good for you guys. He’ll be able to spread the floor for you guys with Drummond in there’ and that’s kind of what it looks like.”
Speaking to reporters in Detroit this week, Marcus downplayed the meeting against his former team.
The Suns, though, know better and fully expect him to come in and play with an edge.
“I’m sure he will,” Hornacek said.
- EOTS’ college tipoff NBA Draft Big Board, Part III: Doncic, bigs on top
- Len’s double-double, Booker’s 22 in first half lift Suns to win over Lakers
- EOTS’ college tipoff NBA Draft Big Board, Part II: Potential No. 1 picks
- The 5: Most thrilling debut seasons in Valley sports history
- Suns Strokes: Suns give up 90 points in first half, fall to Rockets at home