7:20pm: The Suns have traded Markieff Morris to the Wizards for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and Washington’s top-nine protected 2016 first-round pick, the teams announced. Phoenix is reportedly set to waive Blair. It’s a swap that ends a months-long saga involving Morris, who demanded a trade over the summer and recanted that stance, at least publicly, before the season, saying as late as Wednesday night that he wanted to stay in Phoenix.
Washington wasn’t prominent among the several teams linked to Morris since the summer, a group that included the Pelicans, Rockets, Pistons and Raptors. Instead, the Wizards were among the teams linked to Ryan Anderson and other, mostly reserve big man options, before coming away with one of the season’s most talked-about trade candidates.
“Markieff is a versatile, young power forward who brings athleticism and physicality along with a good shooting touch,” Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said in the team’s statement. “He will be a very good addition to our team as we make our playoff push and gives us a proven starter at that position for the next several years.”
Morris, who’s facing felony aggravated assault charges for his role in a January incident, is under contract for three more seasons after this one at an average of $8MM a year. Humphries is making $4.4MM this season with a non-guaranteed $4.63MM salary for next year. Blair has $2MM coming his way this season, but next year’s $2MM salary is non-guaranteed, just as with Humphries. So, this move compromises Washington’s cap flexibility for this summer, when D.C. native Kevin Durant will be a free agent. The Wizards nonetheless still project to have enough room to offer the max to Durant, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter).
The $7.4MM on the books for Morris next season brings Washington’s guaranteed salary commitments to about $45MM, and that, plus a roughly $14MM cap hold for Bradley Beal and at least about $3.3MM in other cap holds, leaves room for Durant’s projected $24.9MM max beneath the projected $89MM cap. A higher cap of $95MM, which some forecast, would lift Durant’s projected max somewhat higher too, but not by as much, giving the Wizards even more breathing room.
The Wizards will hope for a return to form for Morris, the 13th overall pick from the 2011 draft whose numbers are off sharply this season. His 3-point shooting is a career-worst 28.9%. Humphries added a 3-point shot to his game this year and made 34.3%, but injuries have limited him to only 28 games this season, and his appearance against the Knicks last week was his first since January 3rd. Blair was out of the rotation for most of his year and a half with Washington, averaging only 6.9 minutes per game combined between this season and last.
Phoenix moves on from a tumultuous relationship that seemed to come to a head in the wake of the offseason trade that sent his brother to the Pistons. I chronicled the back-and-forth between Morris and the Suns when I examined his trade candidacy last month.
Today’s swap adds $1.56MM to Washington’s payroll, bringing the Wizards to only about $1MM shy of the tax line. It also allows the Suns to create a trade exception for that $1.56MM amount.
Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports first reported the deal. TNT’s David Aldridge relayed that a first-round pick would go to Phoenix (Twitter link) and Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic had news of the details of the pick (on Twitter). Marc J. Spears of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reported that Humphries and Blair were Suns-bound, while Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post added that one of them would be waived (Twitter link). RealGM confirms that the pick going to Phoenix is Washington’s own.