The Raptors are among the teams interested in trading for Markieff Morris, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears, adding Morris to P.J. Tucker among the Suns whom Toronto is reportedly eyeing (Twitter link). Suns GM Ryan McDonough has said he’d like to make at least one trade before the February 18th deadline, and according to Stein, people around the league view the Suns as a lock to do just that. Morris has been the most prominent trade candidate all season long for Phoenix, but though it’s a matter of when, not if, the Suns will trade him, as rival executives told Stein recently, the Suns are holding out for a strong return amid a slow market for the power forward, Stein wrote.
The Suns made Morris “very available” in December, and that apparently hasn’t changed despite a strong performance from him on Tuesday, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Twitter link). Suns interim coach Earl Watson said Tuesday that Morris will be the focal point of the Suns offense going forward, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, a stark contrast to earlier this season, when former coach Jeff Hornacek benched the former lottery pick and at times removed him from the rotation altogether. That situation reached a head when Morris threw a towel in Hornacek’s direction during a game, resulting in a two-game suspension. Feelings have been prickly surrounding Morris since his offseason trade demand, though he backed away from the demand at the start of training camp.
The Raptors have been starting 35-year-old Luis Scola at power forward, seemingly a signal that the team is in need of an upgrade at the position. Morris is in the first season of a four-year, $32MM extension he signed with Phoenix in 2014, so adding him without sending long-term salary commitments to Phoenix, or to another team in a more complex deal, would add to an already daunting burden for the years ahead. Toronto has nearly $70MM in guaranteed salary on next year’s books, not counting any money for soon-to-be free agent DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are friends of Morris, but a couple of other Raptors don’t speak as highly of him, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Morris engendered public antipathy with his trade demand, his high volume of technical fouls last season, and his legal troubles, which entail felony aggravated assault charges stemming from a January 2015 incident.
Phoenix has reportedly been targeting young players and draft picks lately in exchange for Morris, and the Raptors have recent first-round picks Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo, as well as an extra first-round pick for both this season and next. The Suns reportedly spoke with the Pelicans and Rockets about Morris trades earlier this season, and the Pistons are also reportedly interested.
What do you think a workable Morris trade between the Raptors and Suns would look like? Leave a comment to share your ideas.