Because he is an employee guided by a code of behavior, Markieff Morris was fined $10,000 by the NBA. It is .12% of his salary, so not much of an incentive to change. It amounts to a slap on the wrist for Morris’ lack of verbal discipline and war with the Phoenix Suns. Morris is on a collision course with his employer and the NBA hoped that by grabbing money out of his wallet they would get Morris to shut up. Morris has no filter nor does he have any fear of the future despite the Suns having all the leverage. The Suns can do whatever they want with Morris. Keep him. Trade him to a contender. Trade him to a miserable team.
Unhappiness with Morris began after he spoke to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Morris matter-of-factly said he wouldn’t be back with the Phoenix Suns this season, despite three years left on his four year deal that he signed last year. And just to be clear on how he really felt, on social media a few weeks later, Markieff Morris repeated his stance.
“My future will not be in Phoenix #thatisall”
That sealed his $10,000 fate as the NBA considered Morris’ actions “detrimental to the NBA” which isn’t to imply Markieff Morris makes the NBA world turn. He doesn’t. He is not that important in the grand scheme of things, he’s not a money maker, but the NBA was trying to prove a point here. You can’t negotiate your greivances in the media and you sure as hell can’t make veiled threats regardless of how much you want to make the Suns suffer. Professionalism is required from all players.
For this mess, blame LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge strung the Suns along for a week in July before he did what everyone predicted he would do and sign with the Spurs. But the head in the sand Suns created cap space BEFORE knowing if Aldrige was in their pocket. One of those expendable players let go was Marcus Morris who was shipped off to Detroit.
A year ago, Markieff and his twin brother Marcus negotiated team friendly salaries for the purpose of staying together in Phoenix. They took less money which was commendable. They believed there was reciprocity, loyalty and trust within the Suns infrastructure which was damn stupid. Before they are anything, the Phoenix Suns owned by Robert Sarver are a business. All businesses operate on the same principle: the bottom line is the bottom line. So when the happy bubble burst for the Morris twins they learned the hard way the Suns were no different than any other business with a rigid dividing line separating management and labor. Marcus Morris was a commodity to the Suns and the blunt evidence of that set Markieff Morris into a tantrum.
The hypocrisy on both sides is knee deep. The Suns now say they traded Marcus because he yelled at Jeff Hornacek which is as believable as thinking Aldridge was coming to Phoenix. The Suns did this to themselves by their overconfidence in free agency. When they traded one half of a twin as if there would be no consequences, they did little to ease the stab to the heart, in fact they resisted staring at the writing on the wall by their collective shrug at the whole thing, bringing back a familiar narrative. It was Goran Dragic who first said the Suns couldn’t be trusted. The Suns continue to say they will not trade Morris but we’ll see how long that lasts once Morris refuses to be a team player, infects the locker room, is in full rogue warrior mode.
Morris can stomp his feet and whine and be recalcitrant all he wants but he doesn’t hold the cards to his future. It would have been a better scenario to have his agent do all the maneuvering behind the scenes and not put the Suns on blast but he can’t help himself which is why the NBA fined him. He needs a reality check, a lesson in NBA finance. He is the low man on the vine. He makes $8 million which is a lot of money in the real world but in the NBA world he is the middle class, not the ruling class. His fate is controlled by someone else and no, the Suns, had no moral obligation to tell him beforehand that his brother and best friend was being traded. The Suns only obligation to Markieff Morris is for his check not to bounce.
Defiant still, Markieff Morris, after the $10,000 fine, tweeted out a photo of Kanye West in one of his casual let’s chill poses as if to say Morris doesn’t care what the NBA does. He is not going back to Phoenix.
photo via commons.wikimedia.org