Friday, August 14, 2015

Markieff Morris Wants Out; Could Boston be a landing Spot?‏

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Markieff Morris is arguably the most underrated power forward in the league.  He is also probably the most underpaid after signing an extension for 4 years/$32 million, averaging only $8 million a year. This is in the same league that Reggie Jackson is making $20 mil a year.  The Suns made sure to lock him up and should be praised for the signing.

The only problem is the Suns' general manager Ryan McDonough screwed the entire thing up.

McDonough underestimated the loyalty of twins. Markieff’s twin brother Marcus, and the less talented of the two, was dealt from the Suns to the Pistons this offseason. It’s safe to say Markieff was a bit ticked off about the news, especially since he signed the contract in good faith that his brother would be around.  Earlier this week, he came out with very harsh words and threats of non-compliance to the Phoenix organization.  He told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he felt disrespected by the move and that he wouldn’t be in with the Suns by the season opener.

“One thing for sure I am not going to be there,” Morris said when asked about his status with the team.  “’I’ve got to show up. No question. You can’t do that, I will be a professional. Don’t get me wrong but it won’t get that far… I’m going to be out before then, should be.” [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Now the question is would the Celtics trade for the big man?

Danny Ainge has a few similar pieces already in place. The power forward spot is pretty packed with Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and David Lee all thought to be fighting for a starting role on this team. Morris is in the same mold as Sullinger. He’s a Big man, can rebound, has great touch around the basket, and can be a stretch-4 that tends to stray towards the three-point line. He also averaged almost identical numbers as Sully.

Player                   GP          MPG      FG%       3P%       RPG       APG       BLK      STL          PPG

Morris                  82           31.5        .465        .318        6.2          2.3          0.5          1.2          15.3

Sullinger              58           27.0        .439        .283        7.6          2.3          0.7          0.8          13.3    

The speculation so far is a package of Sullinger, James Young, and Perry Jones plus one of Boston’s many first round draft picks. It’s quite a big haul for the Suns, especially since they have absolutely no leverage and would be getting back a player with very similar numbers that happens to play the same position.

Ainge should be in on Morris, but in my opinion that is too much of a cost. The Suns are in a very tough spot trying to deal Morris since he spoke out. Yes, he is on a cheap deal but after he came out and said those things Ainge should be able to hold his old trading partner over the barrel. You can't overlook the fact that Ainge and McDonough have a great relationship and have helped each other out in the past. This was key to getting the Isaiah Thomas deal done at the deadline last year, so it may help get over obstacles in a deal for Morris.

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Another thing Ainge would have to consider is the off-court issues Morris has dealt with in the past year. He and his twin bro absolutely demolished a “friend” in a bar fight and were charged with assault. Would that go into the decision to acquire the forward? Probably not, but it’s also a reason to convince McDonough not to ask for the world in return.

Sullinger is going to demand more than $8 million per year when his rookie contract comes to an end next year. At that point if he continues his production he could easily demand $12-$15 mil per year as the salary cap continues to rise. Also, Sully's injury past is a red flag in trying to make a case against trading him in this deal. He is younger than Morris by two years (23 yrs. old vs. 25) but Morris has also never had a serious injury history.

My final offer would be Sullinger and Young, or Sullinger and Perry Jones plus a 2018 first round pick. Morris is worth the upgrade IF Ainge can win the deal and not have to overpay. If I were Danny, I would not include Young, Jones, Sully AND a first rounder. That’s just too much, but Morris is the best player in the deal and even though he is older he has upside and would seriously help the Celtics move closer to the top of the East.

Sean Dutra
Follow me on Twitter:@SeanDutra

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