Keith Pompey, beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, broke a story in which he revealed that Markieff Morris has demanded a trade out of Phoenix. In a post-workout interview at Competitive Edge Sports in King of Prussia, Morris discussed his dissatisfaction with the Suns organization in regards to the trade that sent his brother, Marcus Morris, to the Pistons.
The two brothers have played with each other throughout their lives. They grew up playing in high school, starred at Kansas together and then maneuvered their way onto the same team in the NBA. Both brothers signed 4-year deals with the Suns in 2014 and took less money in order to remain on the same team.The Morris brothers were obviously upset to be separated, but both of them stated it was the way the trade went down that has caused Markieff Morris to demand a trade from Phoenix. Morris says, “One thing is for sure, I am not going to be there.”
Markieff Morris has developed into an NBA player teams can start to build around. He is an underrated hard-working player, that averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Suns last season. He is 6 feet 10 inches tall with great touch from behind the arc and can make the Hawks already strong front court even stronger.
Current Hawks backup power forward, Mike Scott, is in the process of undergoing serious legal issues after being stopped and arrested for felony drug possession late in July. Not much has been announced surrounding his situation since the initial arrest, but it is very possible Scott will be removed from the team once all the details are discovered. This leaves an open spot for the Hawks to fill at power forward, and the timing of Markieff Morris’s demand for a trade could have not come better.
The proposed trade is as follows:
Hawks 2016 1st Round Pick
Hawks 2016 2nd Round Pick (via WSH)
The Hawks would love this deal. They would be getting a very solid player in Markieff Morris for $8 million a year, who could solidify their team as contenders in a loaded NBA field. Hawks fans saw how quickly the organization traded away the 15th overall pick for Tim Hardaway Jr. The NBA draft can be a crap shoot, and Morris would likely be a huge upgrade from anyone the Hawks would be getting in the draft. Kent Bazemore had a nice season for the Hawks and has built up some trade value. He will be missed, but the Hawks are loaded with mediocre wing players, and a roster spot would be open if Scott were to be dismissed. Shelvin Mack is the Hawks 3rd string point guard. He rarely receives meaningful minutes and is thrown in the trade to make the money work. We can always pick up a 3rd point guard using the MLE. Mike Muscala is the guy I really would hate to have to give up in this trade, but it’s essential to make the finances work.
The Suns would be getting a decent return for a player who desperately wants out of their organization. Ideally, the Suns would like to receive more, but given their current situation, they might not get an offer better than that. Heck, they only got a second rounder for his brother.
The Hawks called up an old friend in Quin Snyder to get them to toss in Elijah Millsap for a second rounder. With Dante Exum going down, they may not want to move a shooting guard, but really you can toss in any player on the roster with a cheap salary here to make it all work.
Morris does have a criminal record as well, and his obsession with playing with his brother is questionable. These things might scare the Hawks away. However, he will be coming into a great situation in Atlanta and would most likely be thrilled with the opportunity to be a big part of a championship caliber team. The Suns play a similar brand of basketball as the Hawks, as Jeff Hornacek creates a lot of spacing to create offense. Morris stands at 6′ 10″, so he offers size as well as the ability to spread the floor. He shoots for 30-35% from beyond the arc consistently. He can also score in the post-game. He is also a great passer and would fit in perfectly while solidifying the Hawks’ second unit. Grantland writer Zach Lowe compares Morris to more athletic version of Boris Diaw, and we have seen how Coach Bud and Gregg Popovich utilized Diaw to maximize his ability. This would also be good news for Tiago Splitter, who has played with Diaw his whole NBA career. Can you imagine a second unit of Schroder, Hardaway Jr., Holiday, Morris and Splitter? That’s what I like to call a deep team.
The deal makes sense financially as well. You can think of Morris as a replacement for Mike Scott, who has a $3.3 million team option for the 2016-17 season. I expect the Hawks to give Al Horford a contract extension worth around $20 million annually and exercise their team options for Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dennis Schroder. With Morris on the books, the Hawks would have around $74 million in committed money with a strong first and second unit. With the cap estimated to loom around $89 million in 2016 and to grow exponentially in upcoming seasons, this still leaves the Hawks with $15 million to spend in free agency next summer to address small forward.
The Hawks should take a look at trading for Markieff Morris. It might be a long shot, but the Hawks would be fools not to go after him if the price is right.