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Markieff Morris returns to face Suns for first time since trade to Wizards

Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) drives into Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during overtime of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Morris was called for an offensive foul. The Blazers won 116-109. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

It was only about a year and a half ago Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough pronounced Markieff Morris one of the building blocks of the franchise.

“After hearing fans and media comment that the Suns traded their best player (Dragic),” he said at the time. “Our response to that, I think, is that Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris are still in Phoenix Suns uniforms.

It’s wild how quickly things change.

On Friday, Morris returns to the Valley, wearing different colors. The Suns ended up shipping him to the Washington Wizards for a top-nine protected first round pick earlier this season.

There’s no point in going through all of the good and the bad of Markeiff’s time in Phoenix. The split was mutually beneficial to both sides once the Suns were able to get a fair return for him.

“Guys are going to get traded, guys are gonna get waved, guys are gonna get bounced around from team-to-team, sign with new teams,” interim head coach Earl Watson said after shootaround on Friday. “You can’t get caught up in that. To me, that’s an immature way to look at the NBA.”

Morris’ numbers haven’t changed much with the Wizards, outside of his efficiency. His rebounding, passing, blocks and steals are all essentially the same, but his true shooting percentage (accounts for free throws and threes) has jumped from .456 to .535.

“I always felt free to play,” Morris said. “It was just tough to do certain things with no trust and play for people that you really don’t trust.”

Despite that, Morris said after Friday’s shootaround that he was excited to be back in the desert.

“I definitely had a great four years here with my teammates and the organization,” he said. “The last year ended kind of bitter. You live and you learn, but I have nothing but good things to say about this organization.”

What was broken with Morris and the organization is an example of what needs to be rebuilt in the Suns franchise.

While many were to blame for a relationship that dissolved, the bond of trust exemplifies a bigger issue. In the midst of arguably the worst season in Suns’ history, another reminder for how they got here arrives with Morris’ return.

The Suns were never able to regain the trust of Morris, and at this point it’s inconsequential.

Whether the Suns can eventually regain the trust of their fans remains something that needs to proven.

Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou contributed to this report.

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