Western Notes: Morris, Howard, Harden, Wolves

The saga of trade candidate Markieff Morris in Phoenix took another turn Wednesday when Morris threw a towel in coach Jeff Hornacek‘s direction while verbally directing his anger at the coach during the fourth quarter of Phoenix’s loss to Denver, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. Hornacek, who’d just taken Morris out of the game, tossed the towel back at Morris as he shared his own angry words with the power forward whom the Suns have reportedly had serious discussions about trading.

“He’s mad about not playing,” Hornacek said after the game, according to Coro. “I look at the stat sheet. He’s a minus-13 in 12 minutes. So there, I took him out. … He thinks he’s better than that. Show me.”

Hornacek said a discussion will take place among team officials about possible discipline for the towel-toss, which evoked memories of Robert Horry throwing a towel in coach Danny Ainge’s face during a game in 1997 when they were with the Suns. See more from the Western Conference:

  • Coach J.B. Bickerstaff met with Dwight Howard and James Harden about their leadership roles and how they can function together, and the two stars have begun to work more closely with each other in practice, observes Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. Howard has on multiple occasions denied a report that he’s upset with playing a secondary role to Harden. “It’s been great,” Howard said of his practice work with Harden. “The thing we are trying to build on the most is chemistry between me and James. We have played together for two years, but the best way to build chemistry is to have those individual workouts together. That’s what we have done the last couple of weeks and we have gotten better at reading each other and the more we do it, the better we will become.”
  • Former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien is an investor in Steve Kaplan’s bidding group for a 30% stake in the Timberwolves, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Conflicting reports emerged in November about whether Levien was involved. The Kaplan group is reportedly progressing toward a deal that would see them eventually take over a controlling interest in the team.
  • Losing to the Suns last week prompted the Pelicans to hold a players-only meeting, Anthony Davis said Wednesday, according to John Reid of The Times Picayune. New Orleans has won both of its games since then. The team has gone 8-8 after an 1-11 start under new coach Alvin Gentry, who criticized the effort of the players after the Phoenix loss, as Reid points out.
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