Not only are the Morris Twins are getting their wish, but it’s coming sooner than most anticipated. After maintaining all off-season that they’d do most everything possible to continue playing together in the future with restricted free agency looming next summer, Markieff and Marcus Morris signed separate four-year contract extensions with the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns announced the news on their website this morning, but didn’t disclose terms of the brothers’ individual deals. After ESPN’s Marc Stein reported last night that Markieff and Marcus were close to signing four-year deals that totaled $52 million, Paul Coro of the The Arizona Republic confirmed Stein’s intel and offered further clarity on the Morris’ contracts.
Markieff Morris received a four-year, $32 million extension while Marcus took a four-year, $20 million extension. Each is finishing up his four-year rookie contract this season with Markieff at $3.15 million and Marcus at $3.11 million, setting up their extensions to go through the 2018-19 season…
“We wanted to lock these guys in for as long as possible,” Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said. “The twins and Leon Rose really wanted to get it done. Marcus and Markieff saw the value of playing together. If they went into restricted free agency (in July) without extensions, I don’t want to say it’d be impossible to stay together but it would’ve been harder.
“They like it here. They’ve worked their butts off in the past 15-16 months since I’ve been here and Jeff (Hornacek’s) been here.”
Faced with the unique circumstance of working on simultaneous contract extensions for the 25-year-old twins, Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby began with negotiating the total number for their deals with Rose and then went to the twins for how they thought the money should be divided…
“They’re very close and we didn’t want to suggest anything that would be a disconnect to what they thought their value was,” Babby said. “I didn’t delegate the whole project to them but I did ask, ‘How would you divide it up?’ They’re so close and in it together that it was better to negotiate the total amount and then go to them for how to divide it. They desperately wanted to be together and they play better together. They motivate each other and it’s been fun for me to watch their maturation.”
This is the polar opposite of how Phoenix’s summer-long negotiations went with the recently re-signed Eric Bledsoe. Of course, the Morris’ unique situation made things especially easy on the Suns here. As McDonough indicates, it would have been far more difficult for Markieff and Marcus to stay together if they opted navigate restricted free agency waters.
We somewhat doubted the twins’ August contention that the presence of the other would trump financial considerations. Markieff clearly usurped Marcus in the Phoenix and league pecking order last season, emerging as a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate while his brother steadily developed into a solid if underwhelming two-way forward. That sizable discrepancy was always going to show in their contract negotiations with Phoenix this fall or competing teams come July – what we didn’t consider was the Suns’ prudent approach of giving the brothers a total number and letting the two divide it amongst themselves.
And Markieff and Marcus did a great job of it, too. Though the $12 million difference in their contracts surely seems strange to those that still confuse the twins, if one of them took a discount here it’s clearly Markieff. An $8 million salary is hardly a slap in the face, but it also belies his standing as a developing individual scorer that shows flashes of developing into a legitimate stretch 4. Big men capable of functioning as post scorers and three-point shooters are rare and increasingly valuable, and assuming Markieff honed his perimeter stroke this summer and doesn’t regress otherwise, it’s likely he could have commanded even more money this summer.
Comfort, familiarity, and most of all, family, just mattered more. Phoenix didn’t drastically overpay for the perimeter-oriented Marcus, who shot 38.1 percent from beyond the arc last season and became a reliable one-on-one defender. But though he’s closer to a power forward than shooting guard, his playing time could still suffer as a result of the Suns’ crowded backcourt. Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, and Isaiah Thomas will play, and P.J. Tucker’s standing as the team’s best defender means he’s ensured big minutes, too. Marcus will be duking it out with the rehabilitated – as a player, we mean – Gerald Green and first-round pick T.J. Warren for court-time, a battle he could very well win. But it’s not a guarantee whatsoever, and a full-time shift to the interior for Marcus has a ripple effect that would negatively influence his brother and leave Phoenix debilitatingly small in the frontcourt.
But one small discount and one small overpay equals a good deal, especially when the players in question have made it obvious they’ll come and go together. Markieff and Marcus got paid, and the Suns have further committed to a future by signing their own players to fair contracts, a trend that began with Bledsoe last week.
This is a win all-around.
What do you think of the twins’ contracts?
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