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Markieff Morris wants Houston or Toronto or anywhere, while Suns players express support

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This Markieff Morris situation won't go away, and likely won't have a resolution until just before training camp.

Player support

Over the summer, it's difficult to get NBA players to do interviews. They especially don't go out of their way to comment on other players, partially because they don't know the whole situation and partially because they don't want the media to twist their words into something they are not.

But sometimes, they are advertising a charity event.

I think it's pretty awesome that these guys do charity and community work. Knight also did a skills clinic earlier this summer as well, before he'd re-signed in Phoenix.

This week, Sirius XM Radio got both Suns guards Archie Goodwin and Brandon Knight on the air to discuss various topics, and each time the hosts dropped in a question about disgruntled* Markieff Morris.

*Remember when McD took over the Phoenix Suns GM job, he said he was positioning the Suns to get involved when the next disgruntled star wanted out? Turns out he was right! Except the disgruntled ones have been his own players... okay, back to the story...

I'm surprised they weren't able to get Eric Bledsoe on the phone, considering he had a charity camp, basketball game and giveaway going on in Alabama. But Bledsoe is more about just getting things done than talking about it anyway.

The Morris twins and Eric Bledsoe have been Archie Goodwin's big brothers, so to speak, since he entered the league as a 19 year old rookie. Now Archie faces the prospect of both Morris twins being gone from his support group in the locker room.

"I can't speak too much on that situation," Goodwin said. "But I can say that the last couple years I've been with (him), Markieff is a great guy, one of my favorite guys to be around. He's a really positive guy to me and for everybody else."

It's been pretty obvious in the locker room, what moments we get to observe after games, that the Morris twins were the heart of the locker room. I can only speak from the point of view of the media, so take this with a grain of salt, but there's good and bad with the Morris twins being the heartbeat of the locker room. On the plus side, their family attitude and loyalty served the players in their circle well. But on the negative side, their distrust of the media and basically everyone outside their circle made life harder than it needed to be.

"He's always been a team-first guy," Archie continued. "I love Markieff. I love Marcus. I hope (Markieff) stays with us. I don't know what's going to happen with that situation. That's why I really can't speak on it. I really enjoy being around him and I wish the best for him whether he is with us or another team."

A day or two later, Keith Pompey broke the Markieff trade demand story, which just confirmed radio host John Gambadoro's earlier assertion that Markieff wanted out.

Then yesterday, Brandon Knight shared a couple of his thoughts about Markieff.

"Just want him to be happy," Knight told Sirius XM Radio on Friday. "If he stays with us, we'd definitely love to have him. Great player. I'm looking forward to playing with him. But if not, it's a business. Like I said, I just want Markieff to be happy. That's the main thing. I love him as a player. I love his game. So as of now, I'm excited to play for him."

Knight never had a chance to get into that tight circle of trust being that he spent most of his time dealing with ankle issues since joining the Suns.

Trade value

The Morris twins' legal troubles are ongoing, and likely to impact at least part of the season. The way trials work, it's almost impossible to put off any trials until after the upcoming NBA season.

The only way this is resolved by opening night is if the court demands a new grand jury hearing, and that the new grand jury drops charges. The next court date isn't even until mid-September - two weeks before training camps - so if a new grand jury is requested they probably won't have a decision until after players report.

Markieff's trade value may depend highly on the these legal outcomes. Teams won't want to sacrifice a good player right now if they might lose Morris during the season - either to trial issues, prison or league suspension. The league won't take action until the case is resolved, but the timeline forces the case to be resolved mid-season.

Trade destinations

Gambo has sources within the Suns organization, and has been very definitive that Markieff Morris has made it clear he wants out. And that he will make it really hard on the Suns if they make him show up to training camp without a trade.

The Suns as of now have no intention of accommodating the demands of Markieff and may very well call his bluff. He is their starting power forward and is under contract, and so they expect him to perform.

As far as trade destinations, he's apparently made a couple of "favorites" known to the Suns.

He likes Houston [Rockets] because of James Harden and Toronto [Raptors] because of Kyle Lowry, but he honestly doesn't care where he gets dealt as long as he is not wearing a Suns uniform.

In the past, the Suns have accommodated outgoing players' trade requests more often than you might think. For all their faults in letting relationships break down, the Suns front office led by managing partner Robert Sarver has been helpful to some of his otherwise loyal outgoing players.

When he was being forced out of Phoenix, Steve Nash decided he wanted the Lakers. The Suns balked initially, but ultimately worked out a deal to get him there for several draft picks. Caron Butler wanted Milwaukee, so the Suns sent him there for Ish Smith and Slava Kravtsov. Goran Dragic wanted the Miami Heat, and the Suns found a way to make that happen too for a couple of draft picks.

Would the Suns send Markieff Morris to Houston?

That doesn't seem like the best fit for Houston actually, since Morris is a midrange guy who doesn't score often behind the arc or at the rim. But then again, Houston wanted Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge when they were available, so it appears the scheme could be adjusted to fit the talent.

Morris is better than Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones, but both of them will be restricted free agents next summer and just might get more money than Morris on the open market. At this point, the Suns would likely settle for one of them in a deal, but there are salary matching implications at play because neither makes very much money. Houston doesn't have many mid-level salaries that are tradeable.

Houston is over the tax line, so a deal would have to match salaries within 125% in each direction. Since Morris makes $8 million and Jones/D-Mo make only $2.2 million each, the deal would have to expand to include Trevor Ariza's salary. At that point, Houston would likely be a lot less interested.

Would the Suns send him to Toronto?

This actually seems more like a typical McDonough move. Nearly all of his trades have been with Eastern Conference teams, and it's in the Suns best interests to make sure Morris doesn't hurt the Suns playoff chances. The Raptors could send back Patrick Patterson and a young player or draft pick in return. Patterson is not as good as Morris, but approximates the same skills for a one-year stopgap until next summer's free agency.

Or somewhere else?

More likely, the Suns will take the best deal on the market, which probably won't present itself until we get closer to training camp. And it's most likely to be with an Eastern Conference team or a sure bottom feeder in the West. Even a trade to Portland is risky for the Suns 2015-16 playoff chances.

If the Suns really are telling other teams they are not interested in trades yet, you can bet that's just because there's six weeks left before training camp and the best deal is most certainly not on the table yet.

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