According to a tweet Thursday from The Burns and Gambo Show, who hold the Valley’s sports radio drive time slot, Morris wants nothing to do with the Suns and hasn’t talked to any team member – player or staff – since the season ended.
The tweet doesn’t cite a source, either within the Suns or close to Morris. At the same time, Morris’ offseason silence would allow Suns staffers to easily draw some conclusion about his lack of desire to remain in Phoenix – especially since they made an effort to contact him – and that may have been conveyed to Burns and Gambo.
One thing is for sure: Over the last year, Morris has become the angriest man in basketball. But does he have a right to be angry?
Let’s start with the years and years of service Morris has given the Suns. Oh, right, he’s been there all of four years and is just starting his second contract.
Okay, but how about Morris leading the Suns to all of those trips to the postseason that whipped the Valley into a frenzy. Sorry, the Suns haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010, when Morris was a sophomore at Kansas. Phoenix has finished above .500 once since his arrival.
I think you’re forgetting that Morris is an All-Star and a franchise cornerstone. Yeah, except that he has never been close to being an All-Star and his career PER is an ordinary 15.2.
You’re being unfair now. All that work he has done in the community has to count for something. Sure, if you count a felony aggravated assault indictment as work in the community.
Maybe Morris is angry because he signed a below-value contract extension. Last summer, only eight members of the 2011 draft class received extensions. Morris was among them, signing a four-year, $32 million deal. A week later, the NBA announced its gargantuan new TV deal. Morris could have rolled the dice, declined the extension and become a restricted free agent this summer, possibly cashing in the same way many others did, including draft classmate and current teammate Brandon Knight. But he chose to grab the money when it was on the table and now will have to watch dozens of players receive bigger deals over the next three summers. Tough break, but I’m pretty sure Luca Brazzi wasn’t standing next to Morris when the contract was put in front of him.
Maybe Morris is angry because the referees clearly are out to get him. Last season, no player had more technical fouls than Morris, whose 15 tied him with Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook for the league lead. He set the tone for a team that was whistled for so many T’s that coach Jeff Hornacek had to start benching players who got one, as if they were back playing JV ball. Do you think refs are targeting Morris? Or do you think that someone who finished 50th in scoring, 56th in rebounding and 35th in total turnovers while playing for a lottery team might be chirping a little bit too much for his own good?
Maybe Morris is angry because he doesn’t like the media. After dropping 35 points in a win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Morris blew off reporters crowded around his locker. Morris isn’t the first player who screwed with the media by not talking after having a big game and certainly won’t be the last. But no player who has done this has ever been perceived as anything other than immature and childish.
Maybe Morris is angry because he doesn’t like the fans. After a loss to the Spurs last season in which the Suns scored a franchise record-low 24 points in the first half, Morris went after the hometown fans in an extended conversation that could not be confused with being taken out of context. While no one would ever accuse the Suns of having a rabid fan base, blaming the folks paying your salary for the worst half in club annals is unprofessional.
Maybe Morris is angry because the legal system isn’t giving him the perceived pass it gives to other athletes. This week, he and his twin brother, Marcus, were excused from a pretrial conference related to the felony aggravated assault charges both men are facing for attacking a former mentor. The case is now projected to stretch into 2016, and Morris probably is wondering why he can’t just have these silly charges dropped like other privileged athletes.
Maybe Morris is angry because the Suns traded his brother. Markieff and Marcus Morris are extremely close – they end many of their tweets with #FOE, meaning Family Over Everything – and their arrival in the NBA marked the first time in their lives that they weren’t teammates. Suns GM Ryan McDonough reunited them by acquiring Marcus from Houston midway through their second season and looked like a genius when both flourished in the 2013-14 campaign and received contract extensions.
But after a fifth straight year of missing the playoffs, McDonough knew he had to do something dramatic in the offseason. The Suns immediately landed Tyson Chandler and were in the hunt for LaMarcus Aldridge. But to sign both, McDonough needed to clear cap room, so he dealt Marcus Morris (and Danny Granger and Reggie Bullock) to Detroit. Despite having been in the NBA for four years – long enough to understand that first and foremost, it is a business – Markieff Morris publicly expressed his displeasure with the trade of his partner in crime while ignoring contact from McDonough and Hornacek.
Little of this behavior factors in similar actions from Marcus Morris, who last week took to Twitter to blast his former team and ended up in an argument with his brother’s favorite sports talk radio host. It seems like whatever is bothering Markieff Morris runs in the family.
The truth is Morris isn’t really the angriest player in basketball. Far from it. Morris acts like a spoiled diva but isn’t treated like one. And when he isn’t, he cloaks his childishness, immaturity and unprofessionalism with the facade of anger, regardless of whether his target is referees, fans, the media, the legal system, coaches or management.
Maybe Morris should push to be reunited with his brother in his hometown of Philadelphia, which has the cap room to take on the twins and perhaps give both of them a fresh start together in comfortable surroundings. Yeah, wait until he gets a taste of the fans, media and management there.
You’re 25, Markieff. No matter where you end up, it’s time to grow up.
Chris Bernucca is the managing editor of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.