Markieff Morris has found a home, and a presumptive contender in the Eastern Conference might finally live up to those preseason expectations as a result.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, and Marc Spears, the Washington Wizards have traded a protected first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the consistently embattled power forward.
The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro notes the draft choice is protected for selection one through nine.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports that Khris Humphries and DeJuan Blair are headed to the desert as part of the deal, too.
Morris grew crossways with Phoenix following the offseason trade of his twin brother, Marcus, to the Detroit Pistons. He demanded to be dealt shortly thereafter, and was suspended by the Suns in December for throwing a towel at since-fired coach Jeff Hornacek. The 26 year old had supposedly mended fences with the organization recently, though, and even insisted publicly that he was happy to be playing in the desert.
Despite that rhetoric, few ever believed that Morris would last the remainder of 2015-16 with the Suns – and Washington took advantage on deadline day.
Morris, when engaged, represents the type of dynamic interior player the Wizards have long lacked. He’s a gifted isolation scorer facing up to the basket or with his back to it, is equally comfortable popping and rolling after setting ball screens, and has the combination of size and quickness to defend traditional and modern power forwards. If Morris ever finds his stroke from beyond the arc, he will make an extremely positive impact with Washington.
As is, he stands to give Randy Wittman’s team a dose of scoring punch and overall versatility its lacked from the frontcourt for most of this season. Morris should have no trouble adjusting to the Wizards’ new uptempo ethos, either; he’s been running and gunning with the Suns for several seasons.
Maybe the most important aspect of this trade, though, is what it means for Washington financially. Morris and Phoenix agreed to an extension before last season that accounted for his brother’s presence. If reports are to believed, GM Ryan McDonough told the twins to split $12 million among them annually.
Morris’ salary for the next three seasons is approximately $8 million as a result, pennies for a player of his peak caliber when it was signed, but especially as the salary cap approaches and exceeds $90 million next season and beyond. The Wizards might be long-shots for Kevin Durant, but adding Morris to the fold certainly won’t keep them from pursuing everyone’s dream summer signee or any other available free agent – for this summer and those going forward.
Washington paid a price for Morris. The Suns should be glad to get a first-round pick for a player whose value was at an all-time low. This trade is still a win for the Wizards regardless, though, one that will pay dividends both immediately and in the future.