BY: ED COLE
PHOENIX – It took longer than most expected it to, but the Phoenix Suns finally found someone with interest in forward Markieff Morris – the Washington Wizards – so with about a half hour left until the trade deadline was scheduled to hit, Phoenix and Washington pulled it off, and now Morris is a Wizard.
Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is disappointed that things went left with Morris over the last year or so, because he really wanted things to work out with Morris, but it was past the point of resuscitating, so the move was made, and McDonough’s relieved about that.
“Yeah I think we all are,” McDonough said. “It’s time to turn the page and move on. I think it was best for all sides involved. I think he (Morris) will play well in Washington (Wizards). He’s a talented player, but for whatever reason over the last eight months, even over the last year going back into last season, things hadn’t gone the way any of us hoped they would go, and for us, it was just time to move on.”
Washington, according to McDonough, had interest in Morris for a little while, along with other teams, but the discussions regarding Morris and any sort of trade was what the team would get back in return, whether it be players, or draft picks, or a combination of the two, which Phoenix came away with on Thursday, with the Wizards’ first-round pick (protected to nine) in the 2016 NBA Draft, and center/forward DeJuan Blair and forward Kris Humphries.
McDonough is quite pleased with what the Suns got out of the near last minute deal.
“We feel good about it,” McDonough said. “Anytime you’re able to acquire a draft pick that has a chance to be in the late lottery, or mid first-round, for a player (Morris) who probably wasn’t fitting in as well as he could have, we view that as a positive result and positive outcome for the franchise.”
“I think this trade will hopefully bring a breath of fresh air into the organization, and give some of our other guys an opportunity to play, and hopefully get back on track starting tonight (vs. Houston Rockets),” McDonough said.
Suns fans, are hard people to please, and justifiably so. When Phoenix is at home, they spend their hard-earned money to come see their beloved Suns play, and when they don’t play well, the Purple Palace is full of ticked off people.
McDonough’s job is tough, because he’s trying to do what’s best for the organization with bringing in talent that will make the team a winner, but at the same time, he hears it from the fans, who, for the most part, weren’t too enamored with Morris’ attitude, and the way he carried himself both on and off the court.
“We try not to make decisions based on public sentiment, and public pressure, but at the same time, I understand those feelings are real, and I understand the fans want to feel connected to the team and the community,” McDonough said. “Over the last eight months, I feel like, with him (Morris) in particular, we lost a bit of that connection. That was a factor. It wasn’t the overwhelming factor. Obviously, he’s a talented player on a good contract, who’s in his prime. We weren’t going to give him away. With us being able to get a pick back, that has a chance to be in the late lottery, or the mid first-round, we thought that was a fair basketball trade on its own. Those other factors were considered as well.”
The pick from Washington, should it end up with Phoenix, will give the Suns three first-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, along with their own and Cleveland’s, which is protected to 10.
There’s a lot the Suns can do with those three first-round picks, as the team tries to fight their way back to relevance in the NBA again.
“I think it’s certainly advantageous (having those picks),” McDonough said. “We also have our own second-round pick, which will be in the 30’s as well, so we could have as many as four of the top 35-40 picks in this year’s draft. That’s exciting for us. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to use all four, and draft four players, and bring four rookies to training camp next year. Those draft picks are valuable currency. Whether you use them in a trade for an established player, whether you package them to move up in the draft, you can draft players overseas and leave them, so it gives us some currency to play with, and some options going forward.”
Now that the team has found Morris a new home, it’s time to turn their collective attentions to the second half, starting with Houston on Friday night.
What McDonough wants to see from his players is the same level of effort they put out over the last five games leading to the All-Star break. He’s looking for the right kind of play, and he’s hoping the effort and play will lead to some more wins, as they head even closer to the conclusion of the regular season.
“With Brandon Knight hopefully coming back soon, and Ronnie Price coming back soon, we’ll have some of our floor generals back, and be able to hopefully start winning some of those games, where now, we’ve hung in there down the stretch. I think, and hope that’ll turn at some point over the next few weeks,” McDonough said. “Our guys have been working hard. They’ve been playing hard. We don’t have the depth right now that we would want, but I think that’ll be the next step for us, trying to break through, trying to win a few of those games, especially against some of the better teams.”
“I just want to see our guys continue to compete, and play with great effort, (and) not get discouraged, because we like the process, even if we’re disappointed by the results in terms of wins and losses,” McDonough said.