As if nothing went wrong with their summer, there is this from the Phoenix Suns. They have adopted a strategy of head in the sand with their pissed off power forward Markieff Morris. Morris has publicly stated he has no intention of playing for the Suns ever again because the Suns traded his twin brother to Detroit. While Phoenix accepts his anger, they don’t believe he has the guts to do anything about it and so here they sit, planning for training camp and Markieff Morris to be there.
Morris’ options are narrow. It’s come to camp or be fined. It’s come to camp or yell to the rooftops he wants out.
I get why Phoenix is trying to hold on to Morris. They have a way of screwing everything up. A Morris trade would no doubt include draft picks and Phoenix is a catastrophe waiting to happen in that area. For Steve Nash they acquired this: Archie Goodwin whose career high is 6 points. Alex Oriakhi, who is no longer in the NBA. Wesley Johnson, who was a mass of mediocrity before the Suns cut ties. (Johnson was one of the moving parts in a Robin Lopez trade. A pick came with Wesley Johnson from Minnesota, lottery protected, the Suns have not been able to use). Another Lakers draft pick was traded to Philadelphia for Brandon Knight who the Suns overpaid this summer. So no one in the front office is a genius deal maker or talent evaluator.
The Suns need Markieff. They don’t have a lot around him. Brandon Knight is a serviceable point whose only going to give you 5 assists max. He has zero mid-range game and he can’t guard anyone which is a little problematic in the West when he’ll have to deal with Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Tony Parker…the list goes on and on. Eric Bledsoe will compliment him in the backcourt. Bledsoe suffers from Kyrie-itis, forever injured. Bledsoe will drop 17 on any given night. The Suns have Tyson Chandler who can’t really score. And..um…Morris who does so many things for the Suns, rebounding, scoring, defense.
It seems to me that a player whom you depend on is a player you don’t want to push out the door.
But the Suns went all Suns on Markieff and insulted the family by trading his brother. I’m inclined to think the Suns are clueless when it comes to the emotional link identical twins have with one another. Identical twins are often soul mates. Sharer of the same genes, when they are separated they go through stages of grief. What matters here, besides the biology of it, is that a promise was broken. Once the twins signed a new contract and took less money so they could stay together, they bought into the idea they would always play together. Always.
The argument that this is the NBA and nothing is guaranteed and contracts are entered into so contracts can be traded is valid and it is a clinical and logical response, but it is not emotional, which is the island Markieff Morris is on.
What the Suns are anticipating is that Markieff Morris will get over it. What the Suns are in denial about is that you can get over a lot of things but not when it has to do with your brother. Family is family is loyalty.
The Suns feel they know Markieff well enough to know that he won’t make this some grand dramatic issue about justice, he won’t sit out training camp, he won’t miss any money because of it. But, on the same token Markieff can bring the Suns to a place of surrender by pulling a Goran Dragic.
All Dragic did was say publicly he didn’t trust the Suns anymore. And then he was traded. Markieff Morris can say the same thing and truly have a case. It is the truth. He doesn’t trust them. But is he willing to stand on principle, is he willing to accrue fines because of it?
The Suns say no. It allows them to pretend this won’t be another training camp like last year when Eric Bledsoe was in his own little dispute with the Suns as will the next very good player- be in a dispute with the Suns. It is how the Suns lead. They are reactive and predictable, not strategic and visionaries. We’ll see how far this tough talk takes them.
photo via commons.wikimedia.org