The Phoenix Suns were one of the darlings of the NBA just two seasons ago, boasting a fun, young roster under first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek. The Suns failed to make the playoffs that year, but they won 48 games a year after winning just 25, and they looked to be on the upswing in a loaded Western Conference.
But after a rather tumultuous 2014-15 campaign, some of the shine has worn off this young club. Phoenix went just 39-43 last season, and several key pieces in Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas were traded away. And as Matt Moore over at CBS Sports notes, not only were they traded away, but they didn’t exactly leave on the best terms. Dragic demanded a trade before he was sent to the Miami Heat, while Thomas was taken aback when he was dealt away. Channing Frye also didn’t speak all that glowingly about the Suns after he went to the Orlando Magic.
This brings us to the Morris twins, or the Morrii as I like to call them. The duo signed contract extensions with the Suns right before last season, with Markieff Morris getting a four-year, $32 million deal and Marcus Morris getting a four-year, $20 million deal. The twins actually got $52 million over those four years to divvy up between them, and those were the numbers they settled on.
The twins have spent much of their basketball playing careers together, and these extensions seemed to guarantee that the two would be playing together for quite some time longer. But just one year into those extensions (a year that featured a lot of technicals and charges of assault), Marcus is gone and Markieff wants out.
Marcus was traded to the Detroit Pistons thanks to the Suns’ ill-fated attempt to snare LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency, and he subsequently blasted Suns fans and implied that Markieff was on the way out as well. Sure enough:
— Burns and Gambo (@BurnsAndGambo) August 6, 2015
But wait, there’s more!:
No love lost… #FOEinc
— Keef Morris (@Keefmorris) August 7, 2015
Yeah, so this certainly isn’t great, and it’s yet another key Suns player not thrilled about how things are going in the desert. Markieff is expected to once again play a key role for the Suns after putting up career-best numbers last year, but he might be gone soon if he’s going to be a headache.
There’s always the chance that this is just a problem with the Morrii. If they’re truly ticked about being split up because the Suns thought they had a chance at Aldridge, that’s absurd. This is a business and Phoenix wasn’t going to pass up a chance at Aldridge just to keep the twins together, even if they just signed them to those extensions last year.
But there’s a troubling trend here when you look at some of these other situations. When multiple players leave the organization on bad terms, questions need to be asked. It’s also interesting to note that Lon Babby just stepped down as president of basketball operations, so the front office hasn’t exactly been stable over the last year either.
Not all hope is lost in Phoenix, though. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight form an exciting young backcourt, while Tyson Chandler was a nice get in free agency to help the defense. There are a good amount of other intriguing young pieces on the team, including T.J. Warren, Alex Len, Archie Goodwin and first-round pick Devin Booker.
So even with all the weirdness going on in Phoenix, there’s some reason for optimism moving forward. It’s going to be tough to get to that next level in the Western Conference, but another move or two could get the job done, and winning would help everybody forget about some of these issues.