Prior to last season, the NBA livelihoods of Phoenix Suns forwards and twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris were relatively tenuous. Despite their status as lottery picks in the 2011 draft, neither Morris had done much to distinguish himself during the first two years of their careers. Marcus was traded to Phoenix by the Houston Rockets midway through his second season, while Markieff emerged as one of the most inefficient post players in the league over that same timeframe. But like the fortunes of their team on the whole, that of the Morris brothers drastically changed for the better in 2013-2014. And unsurprisingly, they’re looking to capitalize on those wholesale improvements by playing with one another for the rest of their careers.
During a trip back to their hometown of Philadelphia, the Morris brothers told the Philadelphia Inquirer that their hope is to remain teammates for as long as they can. With restricted free agency looming for both Marcus and Markieff unless either agrees to longterm deal with Phoenix before October 31, they’re hoping the league at large is beginning to see them as a package deal.
“Wherever we’re together, it’s home,” Markieff said. “We just go out there and have fun. The game isn’t the same when we’re apart…”
“It’s a unique situation,” Marcus said. “We’re just trying to do enough so teams can see us as players, as players, and as a tandem.”
The twins aren’t necessarily tied together during free agency. They haven’t yet contemplated specific destinations and said they haven’t considered a return to Philadelphia. Marcus said they would be willing to negotiate separately if the need arises, but the top priority is to make teams eager to sign both players…
“That was our dream growing up – it’s our life dream to play with each other in the NBA,” Marcus said. “We’re together now. We try to make the best of it. Hopefully, we retire together.”
It’s unlikely the Suns will want to commit to either player before the 2014-2015 season begins, ensuring they’ll hit the open market next summer. It’s in those contractual negotiations – with Phoenix or another team – that the twins’ dream of playing as teammates could be dashed.
Markieff is a more valuable player than his brother. He finished fourth in Sixth Man of the Year voting last season, showing versatile scoring ability rare in modern big men – he’s comfortable scoring with his back-to-the-basket and as a perimeter safety valve. It’s Markieff’s place as a full-time interior player that will make him more sought-after than his brother, too. Marcus is a hybrid forward that does most of his offensive damage as a spot-up shooter. And while his strength and quickness allows him to defend multiple positions, his lack of length and top-tier athleticism will keep Marcus from being the stopper all teams covet.
When one team inevitably offers Markieff an outsized contract but doesn’t have roster or financial room for Marcus, will the former look elsewhere? That’s the main question the brothers will face next summer, and it’s one that will likely follow them for the remainder of their careers. Marcus is a solid if unspectacular player, but Markieff has the ability to be a key contributor on a very good team. That harsh reality will complicate their wish to be considered a tandem as opposed to individuals.
Whether they can find a way to stay teammates for the long-haul, it’s safe to say each Morris brother benefited greatly on the court from the time they spent together in Phoenix. For the sake of Marcus and Markieff, hopefully teams will remember that come next summer.
(H/T Pro Basketball Talk)
Should the Suns re-sign both brothers?
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